I’m a huge fan of Bridget Christie. I wrote in my 2015 round-up that her book A Book For Her was the best thing I read last year, and I think it’s actually one of the best things I’ve ever read. It’s very funny and it taught me a lot about feminism. I devoured it like one might a bag of crisps after a long walk. I just couldn’t get enough.
As I said in one of my last posts (about what Tina Fey’s book Bossypants taught me about how she and Amy Poehler avoid worrying about what other people think), it means so much to have role models who talk about how they have found a way to get to where they want to be. I’ve reached a stage in my life where I can’t get enough of hearing how other people do it. Strange, isn’t it, how when we no longer have to learn, we suddenly want to do as much learning as possible.
Bridget Christie has been on the comedy circuit for years. She used to, as she puts it, dress up ‘as dead kings and insects and plagues and fire and things like that’. Then, just when she was thinking about giving up on the whole comedy thing, she decided, for her final hurrah, to write a show about a topic she’s genuinely interested in: feminism. And, much to her surprise, it changed everything. She won the 2013 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for her show A Bic For Her and the rest, as they say, is history.
I went to see her most recent stand-up show – also called A Book For Her – at the weekend and it reminded me of what following her success has taught me.
This is a woman who has done really well because she’s extremely talented and hilarious, but also because she had the guts to write and to talk about what matters to her (and what should matter to everyone).
We’re all better at our work when we focus on something that interests us. It’s obvious – the more we care about something, the more of ourselves we’re going to put into it. And the more of our heart we put in, the better we’ll be at encouraging other people to be interested in it too.
As I talked about not so long ago, I’m starting out as a freelance writer. I am trying to make my way in a sector which is already seriously oversubscribed and I find it extremely overwhelming. Wednesdays are my assigned writing days (although I obviously do it more frequently than that and think about it ALL the time) and I have regular dips where I wonder what on earth I think I’m doing, who I think I am, and why I’m even bothering because CLEARLY THERE ISN’T ROOM FOR ME.
Now, this voice is not to be listened to – it’s just the sound of imposter syndrome which most of us experience every day one way or another. So to try and avoid it, when I’m struggling to know where to put myself, I go back to my list of things that I am most interested in. The things that I like writing about, that I know about, and where I really have something to offer. And from there, well, the ideas gradually start to come. It’s very much a work in progress, but it’s a starting point, and we all need one of those.
Of course, it’s not possible to just work on things you’re most interested in all the time – girl gotta get paid, yo. You also need to keep an open mind because you never know which new things you come across might make it onto your list. I’ve found myself writing about topics which I might not have previously thought would be my bag that have then turned out to be something I’ve loved looking into.
But when things are quiet on the work front, or when you have some spare time, it’s good to do a bit of writing just for the love of it about whatever it is that you want to talk about. Because that way is sure to lie some of your best work and you just never know where it might take you.
Who knows it could be an award winning stand-up show or an amazing book. Or it could just be a blog post that your mum is kind enough to read. Either way, you’re bound to have some of your happiest hours just getting it onto the page.
I’m always looking for my next source of inspiration to join Bridget, Amy and Tina (sure, we’re on first-name terms) on my list of go-to people for a spot of reassurance that even the very best of writers have their struggles. So if there’s anybody whose words and tales you find particularly helpful, please leave me a comment/send me a tweet/carrier pigeon and let me know.