Erin Doland is a journalist and author based out of the D.C. area and can be found on unclutterer.com as a writer and as Editor-at-Large, as well as at her website and twitter. A contributor to publications such as Family Circle and Martha Stewart Living, Doland is mostly a lifestyle writer with a focus on the topics of organization and decluttering. She writes, she reads, and she’s honest.
Here is the interview:
What got you interested in writing about organization and clutter?
A: I spent most of my childhood and early adulthood keeping everything. I was a pack rat–a level three on the hoarding scale. It was after I changed my ways, researched how the brain organizes information and how we make sense of our world through order that I became interested in writing about organizing. What I realized is it’s a skill anyone can learn and practice. Eventually, through all of this, I became a proponent of the simple living movement.
What do you like about writing/contributing to columns in publications such as Better Home and Gardens and Woman’s Day?
A: Beyond the obvious of enjoying being paid for my work, I like writing for national publications because my words reach more people. I genuinely do wish to help people with their pursuits to get out from under clutter that might be burdening them. If they are seeking solutions, I like to be a useful resource.
When you were in college, did you think you would make a living of writing about organization?
A: Not at all. When I was in college I wanted to be the next Cameron Crowe and make a name for myself doing music writing for Rolling Stone. If you get an old edition of Carole Rich’s textbook “Writing and Reporting News”, the letter I wrote to Rolling Stone applying for an internship is actually included as a writing sample. I loved music and had the opportunity in college to meet and interview some popular people/groups: Lenny Kravitz, Deborah Harry, Michael Stipe, Philip Glass, Patty Smith, Celine Dion, the Ramones, Metallica, Ben Folds, Everclear, etc. But, alas, I did not become Cameron Crowe.
How was it breaking into the industry? Any tips?
A: I don’t know how I broke into the industry. Seriously, I have no idea. I wrote and wrote and wrote and eventually there were readers. And then the world’s most amazing agent appeared. Then an editor at a publishing house who believed in me came along. (I didn’t query either.) All along the way I’ve written and tried to improve my skills. Also, I’ve tried my absolute hardest to always turn things in ahead of schedule, well edited, and in the exact format requested. Then, when I’ve been asked to make edits, I do them quickly and almost always without pushback. I have to trust that the people I’m writing for are skilled and know their industry and audience and have a broader perspective than I do. (I’m not a doormat–I have fought for one or two big things that have really mattered to me over the years–but I’m not a squeaky wheel. Seriously, since the mid-1990s, I can only remember pushing back on two edits.) I also say “thank you” constantly to the people who help me–the editors, the proof readers, the designers, etc. As a result, people often come back to me because I’m easy to work with. A lot of people can write well, but not all of those people are nice. Being responsible and nice really seem to go a long way.
On your website, your bio says that you have a “full-time gig” with a software company. Can you elaborate on this?
A: I have a day job with health insurance and retirement benefits and all of those things that are difficult to acquire as a full-time writer. If I were married and didn’t have kids, it would be easier to only write full time. But I’m a single mom with two young kids and a dependable paycheck with benefits goes a long way.
Why do you publish your fiction works under a pen name?
A: I write young adult romance under my pen name and the two genres are so vastly different that it’s easier to have two separate identities so as not to confuse everyone (especially Amazon.com searchers).
What do you love most about your job? What do your find to be the most rewarding part(s)?
A: The most rewarding part of my job is hearing positive things from readers. Those communications have kept me going on evenings when I’ve been exhausted and not wanted to sit down and write
Are you working on any new projects?
A: I’m on contract for a contemporary retelling of MANSFIELD PARK for my fiction career and am almost finished with a proposal for a travel memoir my agent will pitch to publishers this summer. Writing, always writing.
Photo credit: erin.doland.org