How to find your place

Posted on January 14th, 2016

Are you a young person wondering what the hell you’re meant to be doing? Trying to find your place? Are you a parent with a beloved young person in your life who is struggling with their place?


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My suggestion: read famous creatives’ graduation speeches. They are truly inspiring frothings in which said famous creative confesses they, too, had no idea when they were young as to their allotted groove, with tricks on how to “settle” into it.

Journalist Pamela Druckerman recently shared this piece of writing when she was struggling to draft a commencement speech for her students at a Paris Arts College. This is the part that struck me most.

Pay attention to what you’re doing on the side.

“I started my writing career as a financial journalist. On the side, I took samba-dancing lessons, and eventually wrote a first-person article about this experience. It was the first piece I’d written that lit me up inside. Though it took years before I got to write that way for a living, I had found my place, the tiny hole in the universe shaped like me,” she shared.

Same with me. I was studying law and politics and waitressed for fun (and survival). My love of food saw me explore further in this realm. I did work experience at a magazine and offered to redesign the food pages over the weekend…because my love of food steered me to this. Monday morning I got the gig as the Read more

This is what my writing desk looks like (not pretty!)

Posted on January 7th, 2016

I work in chaos. Plus, I’m very visual and I need to see ALL my bits of notes and ideas and outlines in one bird’s-eye grasp. So I scatter them around me at my desk, or the floor, or (as is often the case) the cafe bench where I’ve set up shop for the morning.

My writing desk in my office

My writing desk in my office at IQS HQ

Also, my eyes and brain respond better to handwritten and hardcopy things. (My advice to young writers is to handwrite their story outline first.) Whether it’s the supermarket receipt with my scrawl-of-a-thought or the serviette from the cafe where I got my great intro paragraph idea for my next book, these messy, tangible things trigger my best creative thinking.

I’m in good company, apparently.

Albert Einstein had a desk that “looked like a spiteful ex-girlfriend had a mission to destroy (my) workspace.” Which, apart from anything else, is a fabulously evocative bit of descriptor.

Einstein would also say, in defense of his chaos:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” Read more

There’s a good scientific reason you’re neurotic

Posted on October 22nd, 2015

Have you caught the science news? Psychologists have advanced a new theory linking neurotic unhappiness and creativity in the brain, giving over-worrying an evolutionary purpose. Bingo!

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Normal worry, of course, has always had an evolutionary purpose. In the face of danger, freaking out helps us fight or flight. But neuroticism – freaking out when there is no perceived threat – has made no sense. And this no-sense-ness has left those of us in the over-worriers camp feeling even more freaked.

To be clear, I’ve previously been upfront about my neuroses. Feel free to gratuitously revel in them.

This new theory argues neurotic people are more prone to think about what might happen. This “mind wandering” can lead to high levels of creativity. We over worriers have highly active imaginations, and tend to be more creative problem-solvers. Fretting about stuff that hasn’t happened tends to Read more