Interview: Deborah Dooley

I found that I shared a lot of things with Deborah Dooley. Deborah has an enormous respect for writers, and for everything they bring to life. I love her idea of doing a retreat for writers, and also agree that having someone read your writing and become moved by it in some way is the best possible thing around. It’s the reason we do what we do.

Also, like Deborah, I can’t write without a certain cosmetic item on. (In my case, it’s lip gloss.) In Deborah’s, it’s lipstick. Want to learn more about her? Enjoy this interview!


Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

I was born in Ireland, but brought up in Surrey, where I lived until 1995 when I moved to Sheepwash, a tiny village in North Devon. I’ve written stories and articles for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been a professional freelance journalist for the last 25 years. A year ago we launched Retreats for you, a retreat for writers and anyone who needs some space and a bit of TLC.

What type of writing do you do?

I write for women’s magazines and features sections of the national papers. I write a lot about health and alternative health, and also lifestyle features and real life stories – fascinating!

What’s the best thing about writing?

The enormous satisfaction that comes from those times when a collection of words tumbles out of your head through your fingers onto the page – and reads beautifully!

Share some of your writing goals.

To finish my two half written novels, and to know that some of my writing has moved people, and made them think.

Is there a specific time of day you like to write?

Before lunch is my best creative time. But when I get the chance, I like early evenings too, with a glass of wine at hand, to fuel the muse.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

Jane Eyre. I’ve read it three times, and I’ll probably read it again, because each time I discover a new aspect of Jane’s personality.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was 11. I’d written an essay for English homework, about a girl who had an imaginary twin. When my teacher handed it back to me, she looked straight at me and said, ‘Deborah, you’re a born writer.’ And I thought, yes, I am. I’ve never forgotten it.

Favorite authors?

Wilbur Smith, Jodie Picoult and Charlotte Bronte.

Book you’re currently reading.

Rage, by Wilbur Smith.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

I believe that when you work from home it’s important to create a dividing line between home and work. I make sure all the domestic chores are done before I go into my office – and I can’t possibly do any work unless I’m wearing red lipstick.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?

As a jobbing journalist, I’ve never been able to afford the luxury of writer’s block. But I’ve seen other writers blocked, and I know how upsetting and frustrating it can be. One remedy I sometimes use with writers who come to our retreat is to get them to talk to me about why and how they’re blocked, and how they’re feeling. Then I ask them to write it all down. That usually frees something up – and before you know it, the block is cleared.

What’s the measure of a successful writer?

Someone who is happy with what they write and who gets pleasure from writing, and what they’ve written.

Advice for other writers?

Read as much as you can – and write as often as you can. No matter how many courses you’ve been on, or how many books you’ve read on the subject, if you don’t write regularly, you won’t improve and grow as a writer. And if you do, you really will.

Where can we learn more about you?

My website. .

Anything else you’d like to add?

In the year that Retreats for you has been open, I’ve come to realise that people write for all kinds of reasons – and not always to get published. It’s been amazing to see what people can achieve through their writing, and a huge privilege to meet so many different kinds of writers, and see some of their work.

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2 Comments on "Interview: Deborah Dooley"

  1. Love Deborah’s definition of a successful writer: Someone who is happy with what they write and who gets pleasure from writing, and what they’ve written.
    When you’re happy with what you write and gain pleasure from it, that’s the ultimate experience of being a writer.

    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Be Refreshed!


  2. Dawn,

    I couldn’t agree more. So often writers forget that, especially if they are freelance writers. Suddenly it becomes all about finding the work, and writing becomes a chore. But writing is a blessing, and Deborah’s definition hit it right on the head.


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