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Women We Love: Fiona Thomas
Ever wondered about the journey an author takes before reaching Amazon bestseller status? Well, when it comes to Fiona Thomas, her journey has certainly been a big one. Inspired by her passion for blogging, Fiona wrote Out of Office: Ditch the 9-5 and Be Your Own Boss after suffering a mental breakdown- and she is passionate about encouraging others to put their mental health first when it comes to working life.
We think Fiona is wonderful for all she has achieved and the important message she sends out to her community: put your damn self first. Read on to find out more about her incredible story...
Hey honey! Please can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do.
My name is Fiona Thomas and I’m the author of Out of Office: Ditch the 9-5 and Be Your Own Boss. I’ve been featured in Forbes, spoken at Stylist Live and written for Reader’s Digest, Grazia and Happiful Magazine. I’ve also written a mental health memoir and host online classes for writers.
Talk us through your journey- how did you get to where you are today in your career?
I started a blog just after I had a mental breakdown in 2012. At that time I was working in a completely different industry - retail catering - and had to leave my job because I was unfit for work. Because of my history of mental illness, I ended up blogging about depression and anxiety a lot. It helped me express myself and eventually I managed to go back to a new catering job part time. There was no strategy behind it, I just found that once I started writing I couldn’t stop! The feedback I got from people was so positive that it spurred me on to write more. It did work in my favour from a business perspective, as I soon became known for my niche in mental health, at a time when there weren’t a lot of people covering that topic and eventually progressed onto write for publications like Metro, Happiful and Reader’s Digest. My health can be unpredictable at times, so I felt that being self-employed would give me the freedom to work hours that suit me and have the ability to prioritise my mental health above work. It all just grew from there really, before I knew it I had enough clients to leave catering completely, then I’d written two books and now I help new writers find confidence in their own work.
We think it’s super important to set yourself both personal and professional goals. What are yours and how are you working towards achieving them?
I think it can be easy to fall into the trap of being busy and productive as though that in itself is a success. So over the last few years I’ve tried to reframe success as a feeling that I can achieve day to day, rather than attaching that feeling to an end goal. So with that in mind my main goal is to become the best writer I can be. It’s quite a vague goal but it helps me make decisions on a daily basis about what I read, how I spend my time and what kinds of clients I work with. I’ve just finished the first draft of a novel so my next goal is to work hard on making that the best it can be whilst helping other writers do the same though my course and programs. I think lockdown really showed me how much being creative means to me, so that’s always part of my idea of success.
We think you’re a hugeeeee inspiration- who is your biggest personal inspiration and what was it about them that made you stop and take note?
I hadn’t ever considered being self-employed until I started listening to Emma Gannon’s podcast - Ctrl, Alt, Delete - back in 2017. She really paved the way for a new generation of female entrepreneurs, myself included. Starting a business seemed so unfathomable before then, but she always made it seem like such an attainable goal. I also love Emma’s writing and there are lots of other authors who inspire me to up my game creatively, such as Britt Bennett, Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Gilbert and Maggie O’Farrell to name a few.
We absolutely LOVE what you do- what does it mean to you to be able to do what you love every day?
I don’t think there is any job in the world that consists of work you love to do 100% of the time, but working for yourself means that you don’t mind doing the less fun parts and I’m really grateful for that! For me the creative aspect of my job is two-fold: I get to be creative in my writing but also get to create the business I run and that is endlessly fascinating to me! Being creative makes me feel my most authentic self, and as women at work I think we often don’t get to truly be ourselves so that means a lot to me.
So many people are nervous to break out and try something new- but you did. What piece of advice would you give to people who want to try something different but are too scared to take the risk?
I think a lot of people are scared of what other people think more than anything, so my main tip would be don’t tell anyone in the beginning. When I started blogging I didn’t tell my friends and family until I’d been doing it for a few months. By that time I had experience under my belt and felt more confident talking about it openly. If I had got bored after a few months and given up that would have been fine too, but I wouldn’t have had to explain myself to anyone because I no one else knew anyway.
What positive impact do you hope to have on those within your community?
I want women to be happy, to know that they have the right to feel fulfilled in life whether that’s by talking openly about mental illness, sharing tips on how to go freelance or writing to express themselves creatively. I also want people to know it’s OK to be messy and make mistakes. I’m awful for typos which as a writer should probably fill me with shame, but I decided to call my newsletter The Typo because I think when you acknowledge your own shortcomings it empowers other people to be OK with making little mistakes too. We’re only human after all!
We all know that life ain’t no breeze. What is one piece of advice you can offer to people in your community to help make things that little bit easier?
Prioritise the things that bring you pleasure. When you’re starting a business or even just a new writing project it can be tempting to get sucked into thinking about what other people want, or what you think you should be doing. Whenever you feel lost bring it back to your own enjoyment, what do you love to do, why did you start? That will always guide you in the right direction.
Thank you so much for chatting to us, Fiona! You can find out more about her and grab a copy of her bestselling book below:
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