Iman ismail desk


by | The Writing Desk

Hot chocolate and Teen Fiction obsessed!


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… 

Eman Ismail – email conversion strategist and copywriter for online business owners and ecommerce brands. 

 iman ismail headshot

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…) 

Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms is the first business book that made me get out my pen and start scribbling inside it! Past me would be horrified, but this book is just so good I couldn’t help it. 

It made me sit down and really think about my values, the kind of business I want to run, and the kind of business owner I want to be. 

What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign? 

Ooo tough question! I think it has to be the “whassuuuuup?” Budweiser campaign. I was in primary school when that came out but to do this day it’s still something me and my friends laugh about. It was funny and catchy then and it’s funny and catchy 20+ years later! I love that they released a Covid version too! 

“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing? 

A friend of mine who’s a published author told me “Writing is editing”, and that is the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given me. It helped me let go of the need to have a perfect first draft and accept that often the best stuff comes when you’re on your fifth edit. 

I have to agree with my friend and say the secret to good writing is good editing. 

 If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first? 

I’ve not read a lot books about copywriting, I have to be honest! I tend to learn on the job and study under copywriters I look up to (like Jo Wiebe, Belinda Weaver, Amy Posner and others). 

But the one book I do recommend to new copywriters is Tom Albrighton’s Copywriting Made Simple. He really does make it super simple! 

Silence? Radio? Or music while you work? 

Silence when I’m writing. Music when I’m editing.  

When I was a student, I used to listen to music while I was reading and writing. Then one day I switched it off and my concentration and productivity levels soared! Who knew?! 

From then on, I had to accept that I write best with no distractions! 

What are your top three novels of all time – and why? 

I’m going to switch this question up a little because I’m a Teen Fiction fan and always have been.  

So here are my top teen fiction books: 

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman because Persephone Hadley was the first black protagonist I’d ever come across in any book I’d read as a teen (and I read a book a day in my teens!) 

Lord Loss by Darren Shan because he is the king of teen horror. He manages to make the surreal feel completely real. 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because Harry and Sirius! I’m currently re-watching all the films so I’ve got HP on the brain!  

What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world? 

Oooo good question. Probably a launch email I wrote for Jo Wiebe’s mini-mastermind 10XFC. It was amazing to have a couple of new members seek me out and say, “I joined after reading your email’. 

What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts. 

An 11kg weighted blanket!  

Who was your teenage crush?  

I mean there were so many! Ha! 

Definitely Qwanell (Que) Mosley from an R&B band I loved called Day26. Google him!  

Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten? 

Penne Al’Arrabiata (cooked in garlic, (lots of) chilli and topped with parmesan cheese) in an outdoor restaurant on a side street in Rome.  

What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt? 

Does Coke count? Hehe (I don’t drink!) 

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? 

I’d go to an Indonesian island called Gili T and I’d write an autobiography. Am I allowed to say that? Haha! I feel like I have a lot to share, but I don’t have the strength to write a book. I think that’s why I became a copywriter. So I could write things that weren’t books and still feel like a writer.  

What’s in your pockets? 

The pinkest, most expensive pair of mittens I’ve ever had. (It’s that cold) 

Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style? 

Pen and ink. No matter how much I love my laptop, I carry my Moleskine with me everywhere and it’s the first thing I go to when I need to write something down.  

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?) 

Yepp, I read Copyhackers and love it! It’s an online blog for copywriters and marketers. 

Tea or coffee? What’s your poison? 

Hot chocolate with way too much whipped cream. 

Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it? 

I do! It’s bright yellow and it says You can’t do all of the things all of the time. Then when you get to the bottom of your drink you see a smiley face staring back at you.

What was your most adored children’s book? And character? 

We’re going on a bear hunt. I don’t know the characters but that’s the first book I remember reading in my nursery and it’s the first book I bought for my son. 

Your favourite word? 


Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”? 

Ah I can’t think of one! I’ll go with moist. 

Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore? 

Browsing Audible! 

Favourite song lyric of all time? And why? 

Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud 

I’m always scared of disappointing myself (more than anybody else). This lyric reminds me to aim high anyway. 

Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor. 


Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us? 

Is it bad to say I love a good hot chocolate before I start writing? I have an addiction to hot chocolate. 

What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline? 

I’m working on a quiz funnel. I’ve just finished interviewing my client’s clients, and now I’m going about to start brainstorming his quiz theme, questions and answers. Then I’ll write the quiz results, the email nurturing sequence, the landing page and the Facebook ad. 

Can you describe the last photograph you took? 

A photo of my 5-year-old enthusiastically vacuuming our living room so I could send it to my family with the caption, “Putting him to good use!” Ha! 

Today was truly the first day I realised he’s old enough to help me with chores! My life = changed. 

What piece of advice really changed you as a writer? 

Has to be “Writing is editing” again! 

What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job? 

Ooo I do have a teeny writing project that I’m kind of working on. But I’m the type of person who can’t share her personal projects until they’re done because otherwise I lose interest and motivation! 

What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing? 

Oops, I’m repeating the same thing over and over but definitely “Writing is editing” 

Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman? 

I wish I could tell you! Am I the only copywriter in the world who hasn’t watched Mad Men? It’s on my to-watch list! 

Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it? 

The Dark Knight – It’s just the most rewatchable film in the world. I’ve probably watched in 20 times already. SO GOOD! 

Which book or books is/are by your bed today? 

I’m currently listening to Playing Big by Tara Mohr. It’s great so far! 

Who was or is your greatest teacher? 

Ah, I honestly have so many. I’ll go with my mum. She’s taught me most of what I know. 

Who is your favourite artist? 

It has to be Beyonce. I grew up with her music. Her first few solo albums were the soundtrack of my life in my teen years.  

Where do you like to work bestis 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 work best in a coworking space surrounded by other freelancers who get the struggles, juggles and joys of being self-employed.  

Iman ismail desk

And finally, where can this caffeine-fuelled audience find you?  

Written By Katherine

Katherine Wildman is a copywriter for creative agencies and multinational brands – and the Creative Director of Haydn Grey.

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