It’s time to meet the (relatively) new columnist for GLAMOUR, as well as TV presenter, Journalist, and Novelist Dawn O’porter; writer of “Paper Areoplanes”, and “The Booby trap”, as well as the spouse of Chris O’dowd, you have the opportunity to learn about her working process;
As a Writer/ Author/ Columnist/ TV presenter, you’re very multi talented. Could you tell us a little bit about how you started out in the field of Journalism specifically?
It was a bit of an accident really, and I use the term ‘journalist’ very loosely. I always wanted to write because I wanted to have an opinion in the public eye. I worked behind the scenes in TV for a long time, and then the opportunity to make documentaries came up I grabbed it. That lead on to more writing opportunities too, but I had written long before I was on TV. Not a lot of it had been published, but at least I tried. I just maintained it by continuing to write and not just doing the TV stuff. So I pitched articles all the time and eventually got a column. It was important to me to never just be a TV presenter. Writing always came first.
Did you have an interest in Journalism from a young age?
Like I said I always wanted to be a writer, and non fiction was where I started, so yes. I once got a temp job on reception at The Independent and I did everything i could do get writing work. I sent stuff to all of the bosses there, and got a job writing for a magazine called Girl About Town, but it went bust a few weeks later so that was really upsetting. My big moment…gone.
For blog readers, do you have any advice about how to write a cover letter?
Imagine how many cover letters an editor gets. So do what you can to make yours stand out. Avoid the obvious words like ‘innovative’ and ‘bright’ and use your skills as a writer to create something interesting. Dont write too much, these people are busy. And if you are pitching a specific idea then make sure your take on it sounds unique.
What was your first job in journalism?
Well i wrote articles and sold them to Company Magazine and The Sunday Times Style. it was a long time before i got a regular job, maybe ten years. it takes a lot of effort and time.
How did you come to be a columnist for GLAMOUR?
I’d done a few features for them and I think Jo Elvin just really liked my style. We had got to know each other a bit and one day she took me out for lunch and offered me the column. That was a very happy day, I was honoured to be asked.
Whilst working for UK publications, and living in the US, is it difficult to manage time differences?
I have to wake up pretty early as we are 8 hours behind, and I need a few hours with the UK before everyone leaves work. So i get up around 7 then lie in bed with my laptop drinking coffee until about 10. Sometimes that’s really nice, sometimes it’s really stressful and not a nice way to wake up because a lot of people are asking a lot of me. But most of the time it’s nice. Then I work all day and send off some work, and by the time I wake up it’s usually been read and I may or may not have notes. It’s nice that by the time I get to the afternoon the UK is going to bed so I know I wont get hassled for anything for the rest of the day. I have no complaints about the time difference.
Would you say it is advisable for Journalists to keep a notebook with them at all times?
It’s the first rule of being a writer.
What are your handbag essentials for a day at the office?
Its been a long time since I worked in an office. But if I did, I’d have lip balm, my phone, a packet of crisps and a tampon. What else do you need? Oh, money for a drink after work, of course.
Specifically, what do you draw inspiration from, when creating articles/features/ novels/ documentaries?
This will sound naff, but it’s all drawn from how I feel about something. I write about, and make TV shows about, things I care about, or that interest me. I have to pour so much of myself into my work that it wouldnt work any other way. I feel lucky that I have a career where I can pick my topics. It never gets boring.
Do you have any tips?
Just write. Relentlessly. And don’t worry about what anyone else is writing. If you have an idea and someone does it, you can still do it but put your spin on it. When I did Super Slim Me where I dieted down to a Size Zero, two other programs were made doing exactly the same thing, but I just did mine my way, and thats all that matters. Also be determined but dont be annoying. Desperation and hassling busy people isn’t the right way to do it. Presenting busy people with something they cant turn down is the way to go. Work hard, it will pay off.
Random question: Do you like Quiche?
Um..it’s OK. I like warm home made quiche, but cheaper shop bought ones are a bit rubbery;) I took this question very seriously.