Who are you?


Three questions: Write your answers in the comments below, or email me at aleekwrites@gmail.com – and I will reward you*.

1. How long/much have you been reading this blog? Do you want to subscribe? (Why?)

2. Who are you? What do you do?

3. The classic: What do you think is the point of art?

Thank you, so much!

* Extension question: How would you like to be rewarded?


Content and Communications: My case

My case, answering a few questions about my abilities for a content and communications role at a charity…


– Specialist and/or technical subject: At B2B magazines Pensions Age/European Pensions I developed passion for well-researched, specialist, sharp writing on complex subjects and was self-motivated in my learning of investments and finance from scratch via workshops and seminars, independent reading and informational interviews with contacts. I adapt to different audiences and have written for local, national, arts and culture and affluent audiences, with all work being online-first.

–          Variety of platforms, including digital: I’ve produced pieces (features, news, internal) for print for local newspapers, magazines (B2B and B2C), and internal newsletter copy via an agency. Almost all work has been digital-first, or digital only, and with social media. I’ve found Twitter and LinkedIn (groups) can garner the most engaged, specific audience at publications, in marketing, and when I have attracted traffic and comments at my own blog. I’ve written for blogs, social media, website copy, press releases and breaking news online first, and longer pieces/series split up for online at all publications and roles. We used Facebook as the basis for production team communication at The West Londoner. I also helped develop a new web forum for risk and tech professionals at Chartis Research.

–          Digital marketing: Journalism needs to market itself! I’ve used SEO and Google Adwords to drive traffic for key words and produce/analyse results, measured success with different audiences with Google Analytics and used social media to test different engagement (each site has different advantages for different audiences; I suggest Facebook and Twitter are the best for charities, but I’d love to test that theory). Produced some mass emails and email newsletter copy. I constantly keep up to date with techniques and test the success of some through my blog for practical experience.

          Photography: See my Flickr. My photos have accompanied articles: Help is at PawDaughter running marathon for her mother. Also on my blog.

–          Writing for the web: My arts-focused blog researched after personally blogging for 3 years. I use Quora and social media to learn, add to copy. I improved pensions magazine web writing with ideas for features (split them up), social media (Twitter, from non-existent), and new ideas to improve traffic and advertising revenue. The West Londoner (local) and Beatwolf (music) are entirely web-based publications, I ranked high in SEO and most-read often in all publications I have worked at.

–          Marketing on agency side: Ferrier Pearce freelance – interviews, press releases and employee newsletter copy. I’m also learning affiliate marketing and building trust from customers, for blog.

–          Brand guidelines: Adhere to style guides at varied publications for different industries and audiences.

–          Reviewing and measuring success: Analysed success with Google Analytics, Adwords, SEO and tested appearances and layout in terms of conversion rates for subscribers and/or sales. I’ve researched traffic and times of day for different audiences, mobile, social media and online, and can increase engagement via social media.

–          Create, develop and present creative concepts: I am a creative thinker and writer. I have developed my blog, poetry and performance of poetry, online video, and I’m currently writing a play. A strength of mine is creativity, presenting complex and interesting concepts, and creating engagement. Test me!

–           Here’s a little comment on copywriting from me: http://coinphrases.com/?p=107


If you’re scared to aim too high & work for no guarantee,why don’t you stay in bed and see if that works instead? #notetoself
The trajectory, the progress and the bigger picture matter more. I’d rather be where I am because I’m there. I’d rather go where I’m going because it makes *me* happy. If you don’t receive and gain what others have, ask why – and ask if you want to do what it costs to get there. I’ve had to swim through tough times but the shore isn’t safe. Luck doesn’t build character, it’s just nice – but you don’t grow from it. That’s what I treasure about my own suffering. :)
All the dots just connected in my head. Like popping corn in a pan, all at once, explosively. How awesome life can be. :-)

The Lost Lectures & Ectetera Theatre, November 2013

The Lost Lectures: Big Fight Live

Price: £27-50.

7pm, Friday, 22 Nov + Saturday, 23 Nov

The Lost Lectures 2013’s finale ‘Big Fight Live’

In 1920s boxing spectacle style, see six cultural heavyweights fight for their ideas in The Lost Lectures 2013’s season finale. This culmination of ‘Enchanting Talks from Secret Locations’ – taking lectures out of corporate halls and into secret, incredible spaces – features an immersive experience of inspiring talks, live music and a BIG fight (with a twist: beat boxing or chess boxing). The first night features Hadyn Parry, James Freedman, Caroline Criado-Perez, Susie Lau (aka Susie Bubble), Jasper Gibson and Reeps One, the beat boxer extraordinaire. The second night features Ruby Wax, Lauren Pears, Simon Baron-Cohen, Paul Steele, a mystery Lost Speaker (submit your idea by 7 Nov and you could be that speaker!) and Tim Woolgar, who will host the Chess Boxing. Live-streamed for the first time, with rap battles from top UK hip hop artists, rambunctious art installations and colourful characters, this finale will be an unforgettable fight.

General Admission.

Secret Location – announced to ticket holders


Night, A Wall, Two Men

Price: £12 (£10 conc.).

9:30pm, Tuesday – Saturday, 19-23 Nov

8:30pm, Sunday, 24 Nov

9:30pm, Tuesday – Saturday, 26-30 Nov

8:30pm, Sunday, 1 Dec

Homeless and nameless; bleak and funny play at Etcetera Theatre

Two nameless, homeless men (played by Donal Cox and John Eastman) are companions who meet at a wall out of habit, but as the hour-long stage play unfolds it becomes clear there are other walls between them. Their bickering and reminiscing reveals their two very different and potentially irreconcilable attitudes to their harsh reality. Multi-ward-winning playwright Daniel Keene highlights the surprising dignity and humanity found in two men living on the edge, with a production that is bleakly funny, sometimes uncomfortable but always gives truthful, spot-on social commentary relevant to the current issues of austerity and survival.

General Admission. Over 16s only.

Etcetera Theatre


Scribblings of success

What can you do well in front of hostile strangers? What do you keep doing even when there is no room for you in that world?

There is no drive when it is easy. And it is easy to find fault with your work, but it’s not easy to stand up and be proud of what you’ve done when no one else understands and thinks much of it. Who do you choose to hang out with – and how can you serve these people? How receptive are they, to what you do? If they aren’t appreciative, what other groups of people might be?

Success isn’t about creating inherently good things. It’s about putting work in front of the harshest judges, to pitch and deliver your best and aim bigger and better than that, and do it now because what’s unrealistic now will be realistic later. Pain is a fire you grow through and where there is pain, there is growing up, and strength in the torn muscles, and when your comfort zone and your friends are no longer around, how do you survive?

Defining success

I was reading for entire days. Like I needed to read about it for it to be real.

In a moment of desperation, I Googled: ‘What do writers want?’ and ‘What do readers want?’

It was enlightening.

It’s difficult to place a price on your ephemeral love and need to pursue art.

But we kind of want the things that we actually fully control. The praise, the money, the stability? Not the primary reasons cited on why writers write.

What is wealth in life? Being happy inside, happy with your own conscience and believing in yourself when there’s no praise, no money, and no stability. I’d say that’s success. And money is just relative. Every second you could be earning more and every second not earning is a second wasted, and suddenly the rest of your life like relationships and love and poetry and music seem pointless but to me, that’s never pointless. Guess I’m one of those arty types. But it also applies to working too much instead of having sex, too.

There will always be setbacks. Periods of failure. So, you might as well choose what kind of failure you like best. Success is only recognised after the struggle, and perseverance is only appreciated after you persevered.

Success doesn’t have a stand-alone definition. It needs to be success at something.

But we’re grown-ups now, and it’s our turn to decide what that means.


You get to set the bar – that’s your freedom. You might not ‘make it’. If there even is such a thing as a ‘made it’ moment. Plenty of people don’t make it, ever. But, so what? If it’s worth the effort regardless of the result, you’ve found what you want and, you’ve found what you’ll never give up at – and that’ll increase your chances, anyway! Life’s a paradox.

If you have something to offer, define it and put it out there in the world. We all need it, whatever it is.



A small shift in my mind

Imitation of David in Florence. My trip 2013.

Imitation of David in Florence. My trip 2013.

The runner’s wall. The writer’s block. The compound rejections starting a career in an imploding industry. Living to fight another day when you’re hit in more ways than one.

Beyond the pain there is so much that is worth it. If the same methods don’t work then why not do something completely different? I decided to do something different. For the sake of it.

I regretted not doing it already and I could have waited to do the same thing for a day, week, another year or more. I did a small thing, a big thing, depending on your experiences. I booked a four day trip to Europe. For me, it was new and different and I have put it off for three years. I chose the earliest dates and went to Italy because I wanted to know I could do it on a whim with less preparation, less knowledge and before I was ‘ready’. I went for no reason. I went because why not?

Knowing I can and I did is better than just knowing I can.

In the big stories, there’s always an unexpected turn that propounds the character into a bigger and more exciting story. And it’s always uncomfortable, the ‘inciting incident’. To incite; it’s what great stories do. They change us in some way.


So, to get more elements of a great story in my life, I have to live a great story and meet those elements there. Mix the elements up.

A story is incomplete without pain and risk. To get more elements of a great story in my life, I have to live a great story and meet those elements there. We know it is only in the throes of danger that people grow into heroes. It’s what your favourite stories, books, films, plays, the great ones, tell us.

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper.

We’re all story tellers. We tell a story through the lives we live, our choices and the risks we take and don’t take. And the moment when you realise a better a story is possible is the only moment you will ever need.

It costs to be safe. You risk all that you could be. Your risk the best story ever told.

So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― Mark Twain

How to be alone

I hear the clock tick with no panic and I reach the end of the day with no self-judgement.

At least, that is what I hope for, in life.

What you do when you find yourself alone affects everything. To simply feel what you need, to know yourself, and to reach peace inside, takes practise. But it is totally worth it and lovely to reach it.

And in the aloneness that isn’t lonely, that is where I believe I find my voice, when I follow the bunny hops of ideas and thoughts and trace them back together.

Do you hire talent? Or develop it?

Sunflower by clconroy

In the creative world, talent (rather than effort) is emphasised constantly. It’s that certain style, aesthetic, effortless brilliance, and you’ve either got it… or you haven’t. Right?

Is there such a thing as talent? Or just people along the learning curve? And, as an employer/mentor, you’re either in a position to develop it, or you’re not.

Here are some great insights on how attitudes towards creative work and juniors can play a huge role in the development of inborn talents and options for growth, from an interview with Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck – author of Mindset: The New Psychology for Success.


“If you are giving negative feedback, it should be about the process rather than the person. So you can praise what was good about the process, but then you can also analyse what was wrong about the process and what the person can do in order to increase the likelihood of succeeding next time.” … “when I say, ‘You’re a genius!”… how do you reproduce that over and over?”

“I’ve also fallen in love with a new word – “yet”. You can say to someone who fell short: “You don’t seem to have this,” but then add the word “yet”. As in, “you don’t seem to have these skills… yet.” By doing that, we give people a time perspective. It creates the idea of learning over time. It puts the other person on that learning curve.

She mentioned research on changing managers’ mindsets by Peter Heslin. Researchers followed managers who received growth mindset training and for the following six weeks found these managers were much more open to feedback from employees, were less likely to make snap judgements about who has talent and who doesn’t, and these managers were more willing to mentor others.

“If you’re in a fixed mindset and you believe that some people have it and some people don’t, you think, well “I will just wait and see who has it and who doesn’t. Cream rises to the top.”

“But if you have a growth mindset, you understand that “hey, I’m in the business of growing talent, helping it develop, not just sitting back and judging it.””


“Adults in a fixed mindset think that great effort, great struggle, means you’re not smart. The notion, ‘if I were smart/talented/it would just come to me’, but people in a growth  mindset enjoy the effort and welcome struggle. They understand that is what innovation requires.”

“In a growth mindset, you don’t always welcome the setback… but you understand that it’s information on how to move forward next time. It is a challenge that you are determined to surmount. In a fixed mindset, a setback calls your ability into question.”

“If you’re with someone who is tremendously able and successful, think: “what can I learn from this person? Yes, maybe I feel a little intimidated but this person could be a great mentor. I could learn a lot. Maybe I could get to know them, maybe they could take me under their wing.””

Creator-critic dog-fight. With added unemployment!


Tug of war. By pippalou

Tug of war. By pippalou.


Critic:                     Oh, hey dawg. What you up to?

Creator:               Writing.

Critic:                     You’re what? Writing what, exactly?

Creator:               Some things for my blog. Not sure yet, my thoughts and that.

Critic:                     So, let me get this straight. You’re unemployed – well, okay, ‘freelance’, but who knows what that means – and you’re choosing to sit in your room and write instead of get out there and get a job? Have I forgotten to remind you of your unemployment today – when blogging seems particularly ludicrous!

Creator:               Career wisdom says otherwise. Blogging during unemployment helped Brian John Spencer and blogging helped Krishnan Nair stand out and land a writing role. Also, blogging on a niche topic protects against unemployment, and this blog, featured in magazines, is about how to be jobless, as a journalist.

Critic:                     Oh, yes, and that’s worked out wonderfully for you. Anyway, have you actually tried anything to get a job?

Creator:               I’ve applied to a couple of hundred jobs online so far…

Critic:                     Online! You’re only applying online?

Creator:               That is actually how I secured several first, and second, job interviews, and tests, and as a result I was almost offered perfect match, professional, graduate jobs as a journalist, online community manager, bid writer, copywriter, researcher, marketing assistant…

Critic:                     But you didn’t get the job offers, did you?

Creator:               Meanwhile, I network in the arts and journalism at events, and I’m also starting to do things in the London poetry scene…

Critic:                     Unpaid work, blogging, and now you want to do poetry? So, I expect it would be stupid to ask you when you plan on getting a mortgage, plan for a wedding, or even think about a car?

Creator:               I have proofreading and transcription work to keep me afloat and I’ve applied for temping, retail and cafe work. I’ve been unlucky, but I’m trying.

Critic:                    And you’re still wasting time on that blog of yours.

Creator:               I like writing about the area I’d ideally, eventually, like to work in, or know about, or freelance for. I’m building an expertise, exploring what I like, and learning about people and art. I’m really interested in creative and artistic industries and the online world, and if I have a bit of time, I could really write good quality content and improve my writing and, while that takes a lot of time, I think businesses might like to employ me because I would be able to do it quicker or better than they can without me. Aside from that, I like doing it and seeing the results. If we don’t spend time on the things we love, what’s the point of life?

Critic:                     But look at you! You’re all serious – you call that doing something you love? When are you going to be happy? There’s no guarantee any of this is worth it, is there? I don’t think it’s worth it.

Creator:               I think it is. But does the burden of proof lie with me? Is it my job to ponder the worth of what I do, or just do it?

I’ve just finished a post.

Action wins.