Professional writing is a tricky business to break into and one that requires individuals to have a thick skin and become accustomed to hearing the word no.
It takes a special kind of person to withstand criticism and competitiveness and remain determined and confident in sharing their thoughts and ideas with the world. Louise Johnson was leading a successful career in cosmetic marketing, but there was this tiny whisper in her head that she couldn’t shake. An unignorable calling that told her that she was meant to be a writer and an author.
We spoke with Louise about her career and what motivated her as well as what gave her the confidence to pursue a full-time writing career.
The best piece of advice that I have received is…
Just start. There are so many ideas out of there in the world, if you don’t sit down and do it, then books and projects would go unfinished. In the words of Nike, “just do it.”
Someone I look up to is…
Reese Witherspoon. I love how she started as an actress but got pigeon-holed into that pretty, young, blonde role and now she is running a multi-million dollar businesswoman and a champion of women’s rights and female storytellers. I love what she is doing with her Hello Sunshine brand taking books and turning them into movies. I think it’s amazing.
My favourite Instagram account to follow is…
@beautiful.bibliophile: I am an author. I love books. The way that she photographs them and talks about books – I love following it and seeing what she’s reading.
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is…
Go to my kitchen, turn on the hot water, and make coffee in the coffee press. That’s what I need to get started every day.
I couldn’t do what I do without…
The support of my family and my boyfriend. Writing is a really lonely job. You’re with your thoughts all day. Having them as an outlet to call when I need somebody to bounce something off of has been incredible.
How did you get started?
My career was in marketing. I got a business degree. I worked for six years in Geneva, Switzerland and New York for Elizabeth Arden and cosmetic marketing. Writing is this calling that couldn’t be ignored. It was a whisper in the back of my head. I decided to do a left-turn in my career and, much to my surprise, I got into Harvard and got a Masters of Liberal Arts in Journalism. The rest is history.
Why do you love your job? What sort of cool things do you get to do?
I love being my own boss. I get to wake up every day and do what I love. In my freelance writing, I get to travel the world and write about it and get paid for it. In writing a book, I get to reflect and research interesting people in history. When you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like a job.
What do you want to be known for?
I want to be known for being an author that inspired people. I don’t want to simply write a narrative story. I want the reader to take something away from the prose that touches them and speaks to them directly.
What does ambition mean to you?
Ambition means ignoring all the white noise in the world and genuinely following your goals. Don’t let anybody steer you off of that path, and you can achieve whatever you want.
Looking back, are there moments that clearly stand out in your life as defining moments that have led you to this point?
I walked into a bookstore, and I was trying to find books on the shelves. All I could think of was, “I want my book to be here someday.” It was a visual moment where I couldn’t think of anything else that I wanted in life. Being there and wanting to see my name. That was a pivotal moment.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?
Graduating from Harvard, which is something I never thought I would be able to say. And finishing a book!
What is the worst mistake you ever made?
I don’t know if I would say that I have made any mistakes. I wish I hadn’t stayed so long in my corporate career when I always knew in the back of my head that I wanted to be a writer. Then again, that experience translated into my body of work. Without that, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.
Have there been any key steps in your development that have helped you get to where you are?
Going to school gave me the external validation that I can write, but I don’t think it’s necessary to go back to school. Having the encouragement of family and friends to keep going was all that I needed to see it through from manuscript to final book on the shelf.
What parts of your personality, skills, or approach have helped your career?
Being a curious observer has helped me. My antenna is always out. I am analyzing people, places, things, and looking at the mundane that can be interesting in a story. Also having a really tough skin, there is a lot of rejection in this business. For every no you hear, there is a whisper of a yes, so to keep going when times get tough — also being self-motivated and self-disciplined to sit my butt in the chair every single day and type word after word until I had 100,000 words written.
What is one piece of advice that changed everything for you?
Most of our shelves in our libraries and bookstores would be empty if you waited for motivation or inspiration to strike. For me, it turned into a discipline. You have to do the work and listen to nobody but yourself.
What are your overall life goals?
To walk into a bookstore one day and see my name and my book on that shelf. Also, to have a book tour and travel the world and meet like-minded people.
What’s the next challenge or project you’re tackling?
In my freelance writing career, I’m launching The Art of Glamping, which is travelling all around the world to yurts, safari tents, etc. and giving people honest reviews of what it’s like to stay there. With my book, I’m shopping the movie rights right now with Hello Sunshine, which is Reese Witherspoon’s production company.
Do you have any hidden talents or secret passions?
I can juggle!
What is something we don’t know about you?
I am a huge introvert. I may seem extroverted online, Instagram makes everything look like a highlight reel, but I’m quite shy and enjoy a lot of solitude and alone time.
Where can we learn more about you and connect with you?
You can connect with me on Instagram @louiseclairejohnson