We all know this. So why is it so hard to unplug?

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

My faithful iMac switched off as a result, and it wouldn’t turn back on again. I’d been struggling for nearly a week to write a magazine feature, but it just wouldn’t come right, no matter how many hours I put in. And now this! Already tired and tetchy, I felt nothing was going my way.

After hours of fiddling…

You don’t have to be lonely. Here’s how to get more connected.

Working from home doesn’t have to mean being alone, all the time. Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

One of the things I love about self-employment: having long stretches of time alone to get into flow with my work without interruptions, pointless meetings, small talk and office politics. After years of struggling to concentrate in open-plan newspaper and magazine offices, freelance life is bliss. Most of the time. But no matter how productive you are, working from home, it can be lonely.

Even introverts don’t want to spend all of our days in splendid isolation. Now that many of us are coming out of our lockdown bubbles and either working from home permanently or settling into new hybrid…

You might prefer Nelson Mandela, Taylor Swift, Tim Ferriss or Oprah. Choose your celebrity guide. And borrow their courage.

Madonna in the 1985 film, Desperately Seeking Susan

I was a fledgling journalist and editor, shy and lacking confidence. But whenever I felt stuck and unsure what to do next, I asked a simple question: what would Madonna do? It guided me through many awkward situations in my working life, and allowed me to borrow some of her courage when I had none of my own.

There are many Madonnas, of course. The one I turned to for advice was the character she played in Susan Seidelman’s 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan. I was self-conscious in my early 20s, still battling with a slight stammer that sometimes made…

How I stopped polishing, and started publishing.

Photograph from Dreamstime | 181849227

I was a magazine editor, for large parts of my working life. It’s a job where content is key, ideas your currency. You only get one chance a month to impress your readers, so you want to make the best issue possible.

But once the words and pictures are on the page, it’s all about the detail. The headlines and captions, spelling and grammar, the paragraph breaks, typography and the turn arrows. It’s easy to become obsessive. And I did.

(Though the perfectionist in me wants to be honest and say you wouldn’t believe this, from my output. …

But don’t let it stop you. Let it motivate you.

Photo by Bruno Figueiredo on Unsplash

But I think it’s one of the great barriers to us making the work we were meant to make. Ira Glass, the producer of the brilliant PBS radio show This American Life, explains it best.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got…

Because creative isn’t a noun. It’s what we do.

Photo 46566546 © Cacaroot | Dreamstime.com

A scriptwriter, she’s had a lousy run of luck. There were projects that fell at the final hurdle. One film was given the green light, then suddenly cancelled due to the pandemic. Another idea had been continually optioned by a production company that clearly had no intention of ever making it into a TV series — but didn’t want anyone else to do it either.

She’s miserable. She is spending far too much time online, comparing her stalled career with the apparent success of her peers. “I just want to write!” she says.

My reply is simple. “Then write!”


Selected resources for finally getting to grips with your finances

Photo by Michelle Henders on Unsplash

Money, money, money

Does even thinking about it make you cringe, feel shame or fear? As it comes to the end of the financial year, are your figures ready for your tax return? Or do you have a drawer stuffed full of receipts that you’re aiming to deal with soon — but don’t actually process until days before the deadline?

If so, you’re not alone. There is too much mystery around money matters, too much emotion that doesn’t belong there. Money is tied up with our childhood, our culture and beliefs, with power, shame and our sense of self-worth.

If you’re someone who…

For creatives, it’s security in a changing world. Every trickle helps!

Photo 23180745 © Dreamstime.com

I’m not just talking about the pandemic, here. The world of work has been changing for some time now. There’s no longer such a thing as a job for life. Soon, there may be very few full-time jobs at all. I can see a not-too-distant future when almost everyone will be freelance, and we’ll all need to be agile, adaptable and endlessly flexible to earn a living.

There is much to be said for this. We get variety, flexibility, and much more control over our lives, the work we choose to do and who we choose to work with. …

I made all of the mistakes. So that you don’t have to.

Take it step by step. Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

I’ve been a freelance writer for (gulp) more than 30 years now. There were many mistakes, many wrong turns along the way. Here are a few things I wish I’d known from the start of my career.

Seriously. Like death, there’s no escaping them. Every payment that comes in, you need to put a portion of it aside for tax. (I use a separate account, so I’m less tempted to dip into it.) Otherwise you’re in deep, deep trouble when the bill comes in. And it will.

You know this, already. But it’s easy to forget. Especially when that payment…

Journalist, podcaster, non-fiction author and now best-selling novelist. How does she do it all?

Writer Daisy Buchanan, photographed by Grace Plant

I first met Daisy Buchanan at a literary festival.

It was the Port Elliot festival, in the grounds of a stately home in Cornwall, and this particular year, it rained and rained. We were both speaking at the festival, and were introduced, briefly, by friends.

A day later, I was in a sea of festival-goers in wellies and waterproofs, trudging up a muddy path and muttering very British apologies while trying not to poke each other with their umbrellas, when I spotted Daisy and her husband Dale, sitting at a table under a tree without any raingear on, soaked to the skin but enjoying a jug of Pimms as…

Sheryl Garratt

Writer; editor; coach, supporting creatives to step up and do their best work — and get paid for it! Find me at www.thecreativelife.net

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