Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The Writing Desk Blog.
Now, imagine I’m about to introduce you to an auditorium, filled with the smiling faces of folks fuelled by caffeine and an eagerness to learn. What would I say?
“Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce…
Dee – Kent-based Copywriter, cheesecake enthusiast and random act of kindness giver! Dee’s writing niches include health, dentistry, cosmetic surgery, esthetics, complementary therapies, ophthalmology and vet/pet content.
Here’s the part where we’d sit down and try and look comfortable next to the microphones. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Can you name the business book that’s always on your desk? (I’m talking about the one that’s covered in pencil marks, coffee stains and has turned down corners…)
I only discovered business books properly this year. I think I just hadn’t tried to read the right things before that point. I’ve invested in a few since then, but there’s a couple that I have permanently on my desk ready for that moment when I need a shred of sanity! Two of the most notable ones are John Espirian’s ‘Content DNA’ which has sooo much value for anyone in content, and Sarah Townsend’s ‘Survival Skills for Freelancers’, which I turn to when I need to give my head a wobble about getting my business shizzle in order. But pencil marks? Coffee stains? Noooo, these are BOOKS, they are to be lovingly treasured!
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
It’s would be considered outdated and sexist now, but I used to love the ‘Diet Coke Break’ ads from the 90s, just because they were so cheesy. I also love the ‘Coca Cola – Holidays are Coming’ advert because you KNOW it’s nearly Christmas when it comes on! And Christmas is a time for magic.
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
I believe that good writing gives the audience exactly what they are looking for – be that information, amusement or something else. Trouble is, sometimes the audience (and/or the client) don’t know what they want the content to be! Figuring that out can be the biggest piece of the puzzle!
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
I wish Sarah Townsend had published her book ‘Survival Skills for Freelancers’ back when I started out. That would be my bible for getting set up as a freelance copywriter. I think the only piece of advice I would give myself would be to find communities on Twitter and other social media channels right away. I’ve grown and developed so much more since I discovered them – thanks to the insane amount of wisdom, advice and sheer camaraderie that they offer. Big shout out to my #ContentClubUK, #FreelanceHeroes, #BeingFreelance and #DoingItForTheKids crews. I would be lost without you all!
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
Music all the way… either the radio or I use my Alexa or Apple playlist. I can’t work in silence, it’s deafening. Exactly what I will listen to depends on my mood. I love Brazilian and Reggae music lately, it’s summery and chilled.
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
Dude, how can I answer this, honestly? That’s like asking me to name my favourite child!!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – because it answered so many questions that I didn’t know that I had, and it concluded one of my favourite book series -ever!
The Hunger Games trilogy – because I love anything dystopian, the concepts were incredible, and I was captivated by the love story between Katniss and Peeta.
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee – I only read this very recently, but it has made a lasting impression. It’s got everything in it – mystery, romance, culture, history… I learnt so much from reading it.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
I wrote a poem called ‘snow’ when I was a child. I’m not even sure how old I was, maybe 11 or 12, I will have to ask my parents. But I entered it in a competition, and I think I came 3rd. I had to go to a ceremony at the local theatre and I won a £5 book token. I suffered with very low self-esteem as a child and it was the first time, I genuinely felt proud of something I had done. It also showed others that I was actually good at something.
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
A pack of guitar picks for my teenage daughter who is trying to teach herself, and a replica magic wand a la Harry Potter for my son who is obsessed with everything Harry Potter.
Who was your teenage crush?
God, I’m not sure I can even remember back that far! Probably Richie from the band 5ive. He liked one of my tweets once fairly recently. Oh, and I saw him in concert back in February. He definitely doesn’t do it for me anymore! (Sorry Rich, I’m sure you’re heartbroken!)
Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Seafood paella at our favourite restaurant in the world – The Blue Bar in Palma Nova, Majorca which is literally right next to the sea and looks out over Son Mathias beach. The paella was incredible – stacked with prawns, scallops, mussels, lobster and Spanish rice. Stunning. Think we paired it with a bottle of Cune rioja and ate and watched the sun set across the bay. Perfection.
What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?
It changes quite regularly. Currently I am particularly partial to a Gordon’s lemon gin or JJ Whitley Bramble gin – both with lemonade. I also love a salted caramel Baileys with ice.
If I were to give you a private jet, David Attenborough as a tour guide and a month off work – all expenses paid – where would you go and what or who would you write about – and why?
A tour of middle and south America without a doubt. We watched the BBC series ‘Race across the World’ and it looked incredible. I’d want to see and eat everything and write about it all. That would be a dream come true. I hope to indulge in my passion for travel and combine it with writing more in the future when the kids are grown up. If you love travel, I’d definitely recommend the next series of the show when it comes out.
What’s in your pockets?
Nothing – I don’t have pockets. The lack of pockets in women’s clothing is one of my biggest bugbears actually. That and the fact that virtually all Christmas jumpers are round-necked and therefore not suitable for women with certain body shapes. What is that all about?! I suspect they were designed by men…
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
Paper and pencil for scribbled notes and ideas when planning. It’s got to be my special Poundland pens too, they write so well and don’t fail at the crucial moment! Getting words onto screen I usually start in the middle with the bits that I know best and then build around it. It’s not unusual for me to have floating sentences until right at the end though when I pull it all together.
Do you read any blogs or magazines about writing? (And I mean read, not just subscribe to and delete/leave on your desk and recycle?)
I subscribe to a few blogs and newsletters. Okay, lots. Probably too many, I don’t always have time to give them the appreciation that they deserve – and they really do deserve it. One of the most notable ones off the top of my head – Ellen Forster’s newsletter (@contentbythesea) is so refreshing and real every single week. I’m also super excited for the launch of Alice’s (@AliceKHollis) ‘More Than Words’ newsletter which is coming soon!
Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?
Tea – skimmed milk, no sugar please. Got to be PG tips though, nothing else will do.
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
I’ve got a couple. One is a plain, beige mug. Nothing fancy, but it’s the only surviving mug from our first flat (2006!), it keeps my tea really hot for ages and it’s nice to hold. The other is a ‘Little Miss Chatterbox’ mug that my best friend Hayley gave me a couple of weeks before she passed away from cancer in 2016. It’s the last present she ever gave me, but I don’t use it often as I am so paranoid about something happening to it. Her love of tea was a standing joke between us – so much so that me and some friends arranged for a wreath in the shape of a tea-cup for her funeral. Sorry, that’s sad isn’t it. But thank you for the chance to mention her, she’d like that.
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
The Dirty Old Teddy by Enid Blyton. I remember my parents reading it to me a lot. As for character, probably Claudia Kishi from the Babysitters Club stories. Those were the days!
Your favourite word?
It changes a lot. Currently I really like ‘interrobang’ which I only discovered thanks to Elizabeth Dunne (@geek_frelance) recently. It’s the term for the use of question marks combined with exclamation marks – something I do a lot!
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?)
‘Solutions’ and ‘strategy’ are pretty hated. I know I’m not alone in disliking them. Plus, I hate ‘manoeuvre’ because it’s one of the few words I really can’t spell no matter how much I practice!
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
Obviously, C-19 has put paid to a lot of shopping in real life. I do love a bookstore though. I took my son into Waterstones yesterday and I could have spent hours in there. And antique stores – they are like a maze of forgotten treasures. These days though I pretty much buy everything online.
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
I don’t really have one. That said, the lyrics to the songs on Nick Cave’s last album, ‘Ghosteen’ are among the most beautiful that I’ve ever heard. Haunting, desperately sad and yet hopeful.
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
Pretty much anything from the 90s or 00s to be honest. You know, back when music was actually good.
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
I can’t work without a drink on my desk. I also seem to focus better when I have a bag of Haribo Tangfastics to snack on…
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
I’m working on content for the cosmetic surgery and esthetics industry today – a couple of blogs on fat-freezing and a web page on new treatment being offered by a clinic called a vampire facial! If I get time, I am also going to be finishing off a blog I’ve been working on for my own website.
Can you describe the last photograph you took?
My desk for this interview! The lighting is shocking so it took me loads of attempts.
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
‘Don’t ever try to sell me on anything. Give me ALL the information and I’ll make my own decisions’ – I never thought I would be quoting Kanye West, but there you go! I’m not a big fan of pushy, overtly salesy copy and prefer to be the purveyor of alllll the information that empowers the audience to decide why the product or service is right for them. I write a lot about elective medical and cosmetic treatments, and this approach seems to work really well.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
A text message to my friend to wish her a Happy 40th Birthday!
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
‘Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it’ – Bob Dylan. It’s obviously not meant to be about writing, but it applies to the creative process in general. It’s also made me appreciate that I work better, faster and am at my most creative from late morning onwards. So I try and utilize that time more efficiently, rather than sitting in front of a blank screen for hours in the morning.
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
I’m assuming this refers to the TV series? Never seen it, I don’t watch much tv! I have a crazy aunt, does she count?
Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?
Not really. I am an avid film fan and can find something awesome in most. Recently, one of my favourites has been the live-action remake of Aladdin. Visually stunning, and I am a sucker for anything Disney.
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
I’m currently reading ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, as recommended to me by Dave Harland (@wordmancopy). I’ve not watched the tv series which I am assured is a good thing! I’m cheating though, it’s on Kindle. Virtually all my books are now.
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
It sounds cliché, but honestly, my kids have taught me more about life than anyone else. They’ve given me a shred more patience (honestly!), they’ve taught me to appreciate time and memories over material things, and they’ve given me the drive and ambition to be the best I can at work and in my personal life so that they have a positive role model to look up to.
Who is your favourite artist?
Damien Hirst – for the colours and patterns, and Salvador Dali because they are just so freakishly thought-provoking.
Where do you like to work best – is it at a desk, in an office or in a coffee shop? And would you send us a picture of where the magic happens?
I’d like to work on a laptop overlooking the sea or a gorgeous lake. The reality is that I work from a micro-office in the corner of my lounge. Like a micro-pub, but without the alcohol sadly. I have toy dogs on the corners of my iMac screen – my son gave them to me to keep me company while I work.