When did you first feel like a writer?
It was probably when I did a write up for Seoul Fashion Week in 2011. I was teaching in South Korea and had been writing for magazines both there and back in the UK (unpaid) in my free time for the ‘experience’, until it got to the point where I realised it wasn’t worth sacrificing my social life and stressing over deadlines unless I was getting compensated for it. Then a former editor for one of the magazines I’d written for started up a fashion and lifestyle website and offered me my first big paid writing assignment. It was exciting attending all the shows and sitting on the front row. I felt totally out of my depth at first, though in this case the impostor syndrome was probably warranted as I knew relatively little about fashion!
What’s the most interesting thing that has inspired your writing and what was the result?
I can’t really talk about that right now as it relates to a big opportunity I’ve applied for and I have to keep quiet about it until I’ve heard the outcome. If I’m successful then you’ll find out in the long run, and if I’m not then you can ask me again in a couple of years.
Paint us a picture: what does your writing process look like? Do you write in coffee shops at night or only on an old type-writer?
I currently do most of my writing on my laptop from my bed due to ongoing illness. My writing process is a bit all over the place. It’s a lot of trial and error. I have several neurodiverse conditions, though I didn’t get assessed or diagnosed until my thirties, so I’m still figuring out how my brain works and what works best for my brain.
I’ve always struggled with insomnia, and I went through a period recently where I couldn’t sleep for about five days, so rather than tossing and turning and letting my thoughts race all night, I sent off a bunch of submissions for various writing competitions and bursaries. A few weeks later I got a confirmation email informing me I’d been accepted for something I didn’t even remember applying for. I wouldn’t recommend this method though.
Describe your ideal reader: who would your work speak to?
Anybody who feels they connect with it.
Who’s an author you’ve changed your mind about and why?
Richard Osman. It seems like every celebrity has a novel out these days so I was sceptical, but I loved The Thursday Murder Club. It’s a wholesome spin on the murder mystery genre. The concept of a group of elderly people in a care home getting together to solve murders is simple but brilliant. I haven’t read any of the sequels yet but they’re on my reading list.
If you could interview any other writer/artist, who would it be and why?
Probably David Sedaris. I love his essays and I find him fascinating and hilarious. I reckon I’d have a good laugh with him.
What motivates you to keep writing?
It feels clichéd, but I mostly do it because I find it cathartic to get my thoughts down and to be able to express myself.
How do you deal with writer’s block or being overwhelmed by the writing process?
Because of my neurodivergence, writer’s block and overwhelm are both things I experience frequently. I’ve been told that the best way to get over writers’ block is to just write, even if you have nothing to write. If you can’t think of what to write, just write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until something comes to you. That method works best with freewriting exercises.
I also use something called the pomodoro technique. It’s where you set a timer for fixed period of time, for example 25 minutes, then work solidly for that 25 minutes and try to avoid any distractions. Then when the 25 minutes are up, you set your timer again for a shorter period (usually 5 minutes) and take a break. Then when your break is up, you repeat the process. I find it helpful for my ADHD as it’s easier to focus for shorter chunks of time.
Where would you like to see yourself in a decade? A creative writing teacher? As a best-seller?
I’d like to have had at least two more books published by then. I had my first poetry collection published in 2018 so it’s about time I finished writing my follow up. I also want to write children’s books.
I’m going to be studying for an MSc in creative arts and mental health next year. I’ve run several ‘writing for self care’ workshops and have had really positive responses to them. Now I have the chance to do academic research into the positive impact the arts can have on mental health and apply that to my work. Whatever I find myself doing in a decade, it will most likely involve using writing and other art forms for therapeutic purposes in some capacity.
What has your work taught you about yourself?
It’s taught me that there’s always space for progression, and that we’re constantly learning even if we’re not conscious of it. When I look back at some of my writing from a decade ago (or even more recently), it sometimes makes me cringe, but it also shows me ways in which I’ve grown and how that’s reflected in my writing.