Lauren Sharkey's love of fashion and writing steered her towards a career in fashion journalism. Her desire to make a difference has led her to cover contemporary women's issues with the aim of raising awareness. She published her first book this year.
Hi Lauren! Where in the world are you based?
I live in Kent in the glorious UK.
You’re a women’s, health and fashion journalist. How did this journey begin?
I've been interested in the inner workings of the fashion industry since I was a teenager. Combine that with a love of writing and it's no wonder I turned to fashion journalism. I didn't go to university and instead interned for free to try and get my foot in the door (which I wouldn't recommend because a. it's illegal and b. that prized job you're hoping for at the end never seems to materialise). Eventually, I started pitching editors and inadvertently became a freelance journalist. I still cover fashion, but have moved into raising awareness of various women's issues with the aim of making a difference, no matter how small.
Congratulations on your first book, Resisters: 52 Young Women Making Herstory Right Now, published earlier this year! What inspired you to write a book about these topics?
To put it simply: because young women are a real force in this world and deserve the recognition. Unfortunately, for far too long, their efforts have been diminished. Many are still never given the chance to achieve their dreams, but I hope that Resisters will encourage all young people to go out and create the change they want to see in the world. To keep the project going, I'm (slowly) building an Instagram community of activists. So please follow @resistersglobal if you're interested!
Is there anything you would do differently if you were writing another book?
So much! The publishing industry is still a bit of a minefield to me. But the biggest thing I'd do next time around is to stop stressing. I only had a few months to interview the activists and write up the entire thing which, when coupled with my usual work, meant a lot of late nights and early mornings! But I've realised that you're not going to lose your book deal because you miss a deadline by a week. Communication is key, and publishers are human.
If a next book did come around (which I hope it does soon), I'd also try to enjoy the process a little more. During the period between the book being finished and it being released, I spent almost every day panicking that I hadn't spotted a huge mistake or that I'd worded something in a way that would result in me being "cancelled". In reality, I didn't need to have any concerns. The young women were all happy with how they'd been represented and that's all that should have mattered.
What are some of the common traps for new writers?
Spending an inordinate amount of time agonising over every word choice. Just don't do it. If you're struggling to get words out, just write. It can be the worst thing you've ever written, but it's much easier to go back and edit later on than sit staring at a blank page for hours.
"As a writer, you will face criticism almost every day. Don't look at it as a personal attack, but an easy way to improve."
And don't get too precious about your work. Editors are there for a reason; it's their job to make your writing the best it can be. If a piece comes back with tonnes of comments and changes, learn from it. As a writer, you will face criticism almost every day. Don't look at it as a personal attack, but an easy way to improve.
How do you stay focused when juggling your journalistic work, writing and editing?
I still struggle! I guess the best advice is to stick to a schedule, otherwise you end up all over the place or wasting time scrolling through Twitter. Each evening, I text myself a to do list for the next day starting from the most important to the least. I don't always get everything done, but it helps.
This is the last Creator Spotlight interview of 2019! Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
To work less. I've had a pretty successful year both professionally and financially, but I know I've spent way too much time in front of a computer screen. Next year, I'm going to attempt to limit my working hours and switch off when the day is done. Oh, and spend more time outdoors. Nature can be a powerful medicine. Happy 2020!