Wellington author and recovering alcoholic Lotta Dann has spent most of her adult life writing, but working on her second book Mrs D is going within, which is out today, was different than any other writing project.

A successful journalist for more than a decade, Dann wrote about her 24-year struggle with alcoholism and her journey to sobriety in an anonymous blog, before "outing" herself as a recovering alcoholic in her first book, Mrs D is going without, in 2014.

She also manages the online community Living Sober, made up of 5000 members who want to get sober.

Mrs D is going within is about the next stage - how the Karori mother-of-three and wife to TVNZ political editor Corin Dann navigates life, three years after putting down the bottle.


"It's a follow-up memoir, which basically reveals the truth that there's more to getting sober than just stopping drinking," Dann says.

"I thought I'd stop drinking and everything would be sweet-as. But for me what was really surprising was that stopping drinking was just going to be so emotional and that I was going to discover that I was really, to be honest, quite unformed emotionally."

She said even after ditching booze she lacked the skills to deal with "stuff"- from a loved one's death to the difficulties of everyday life.

Writing Mrs D is going within was Dann's way of working through her emotions and developing strategies and techniques to help her cope.

"That's always been part of my process. Right from when I started blogging as my tool to get myself sober I discovered that getting stuff out into words on the screen is what helps me figure stuff out."

Her story, as told in Mrs D is going within, is one Dann hopes many people can relate to.

"It's not about alcohol really. I mean it will definitely appeal to people like me who are trying to get our lives together without alcohol in them, but everyone has a brain and the brain is the biggest problem - all of this thinking and worrying.

"I think it will have a broader appeal because I know a lot of my friends who don't have issues with alcohol, we talk about this sort of stuff all the time."

The book explores mindfulness, the psychological practice of paying attention to what's happening now, and how it's helped Dann through different struggles. Dann hoped her readers would research mindfulness and discover its benefits for themselves after finishing the book.

"I've really made myself quite vulnerable because I'm being so honest. But I want to do that because I just feel like the more we share openly and honestly, the better it is for all of us."

While she wants to keep writing, Dann told the Weekend Herald she might prefer working on fiction in future rather than another memoir.

"I don't know if I want to write about myself ever again. I feel like I'm a bit over opening myself up. It's probably just because I'm feeling vulnerable right now.

"If I can find a way to use this voice that I have right now, the writing voice, in another style of book, then that would be a happy day."

She said she thinks of herself as a recovery advocate and wants to continue to help others who are like she was five years ago - "miserable and stuck".

"I just want to let them know that it's hard work [getting sober] but it's just so worth it - keep the conversation going and just keep saying the truth, which is it is actually possible to live alcohol-free and have a great, fun, amazing, grounded life.

"I didn't think it was possible and now I know it is."

Lotta's Toolbox

•Build up grounding and nourishing tools and techniques to help you deal with life - things that are rooted in self-care and kindness that will make you feel good about yourself.
•Make some of them material, some outdoorsy, some social, some private, some serious, some fun, some straightforward and some requiring more effort.
•Realise that these things have a subtle impact - it's the ongoing, cumulative affect of having them in your life that will make them powerful.
•Remember to use them particularly when the going gets tough.
•Don't beat yourself up if you forget and self-sabotage instead - we are all works in progress.