I may not have wanted to stay in St. Louis after high-school (for a variety of reasons), but I sure do have a soft spot for my fellow Midwesterners.
Heather Taylor is one such lady. A St. Louis native who fled for California (sound familiar?), she is an incredibly spunky, optimistic and soulful young lady. While we haven’t met in person, I was humbled and delighted that she reached out to inquire about becoming a Guest Editor at The Girl Who Knows.
Knowing that someone like Heather was inspired enough by the world we are creating here, to reach out and offer her talents – well, let’s just say it fills my heart (to the brim).
I’m so pleased to introduce you to the talented writer and perpetual student of life: Heather Taylor. I hope you enjoy getting to know her, as much as I have!
I’m so excited to get to know you a bit better today – thanks for joining me Heather! Let’s dive in – tell us who you are and what you do + create + love?
I’m Heather Taylor. Midwest born and raised, I grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri. My decision to move to California for college was based entirely off of a postcard for a university I received in the mail. Even today, I can’t tell you just how much I knew that school was where I was meant to go, but I was so sure that my intuition was right. And it was!
After graduating with my BA in Communications from Cal Lutheran University in 2010, I’ve been bouncing all around the state – living in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, and Orange County, where I currently reside (in Laguna Hills).
I’ve dabbled in a little bit of everything under the communications umbrella from social media to advertising, but my true calling is writing. During the day, I’m a copywriter for an arts and crafts magazine publisher and at night, I’m a freelance writer. (Like being Batman, but with more coffee.)
I’m obsessed with all things pop culture and trends, especially in the entertainment and advertising industries. Op/eds and advice articles from personal experience are another area I love diving into. I love to learn about things I don’t know and do research into existing interests of mine to further brand myself as an expert in those fields, however niche they may be!
I love how curious you are. I’m a perpetual learner myself, so I get it (it’s so much fun)! Tell me, how did you decide to become a writer, and ultimately be your own boss? Why is the work you do so important?
Freelance writing is 10% glamour and 90% hard work and commitment. The workload is not consistent from month to month. It does not stick to a 9-5 schedule. And sometimes writing feels like the last thing you want to do after coming home from a long day at work. However, I simply can’t live without writing in my life.
Freelance writing isn’t easy, but for me it’s my best form of self expression. By doing it continually, I see myself evolve as a writer over time. Every year my content gets a little sharper and clearer. I know how to tailor my writing for different audiences and give them what they expect while staying true to the topic at hand and integrating my own voice in the commentary.
I’ve also learned how to accept and give constructive criticism, which is huge. Don’t take the criticism personally because it’s not about you as a person. Instead, listen. Leave your ego at the door. Pay attention. Shift the way you write accordingly and ask questions if you don’t understand. If your passion for writing runs deep, you’ll take away so much more this way.
I have such a strong appreciation for writers who are passionate about their subject(s), do their homework, and keep it real. Conducting interviews is one of my favorite aspects of freelance writing, but I’ve never been fond of *typical* interviews. One of my favorite hashtags is #AskHerMore – I am a stickler for asking deeper questions during interviews. I like knowing about a person’s hopes and dreams and what goes on in their imagination. That’s real. That’s life. And that’s super important for not just me, but the reader as well.
Another part of writing that’s important to me is openly and honestly discussing failure. I’ve had a lot of professional success over the years, but I’ve also failed hard. Failure is the new “F word” online, unfortunately. Nobody wants to discuss it because it sucks. The topic gets glossed over with career advice articles that are so sanitized by the time you’re done reading them, you feel even more lost than before. Setbacks are tricky, but they’re part of life.
It’s so true. So, knowing that setbacks are inevitable, I’d love to hear how you stay motivated and inspired in work/life, when things are feeling less than peachy?
I love to go for walks to clear my head and get my creative juices pumping. I read, I go to coffee shops to work, I listen to music, I go on Tumblr and Reddit and do Twitter chats, and I talk to my closest friends and family members.
Talking to the people who know me well is one of the top ways I stay motivated. If I feel lost, it helps to talk it out and plan my next move with their guidance and support. The same goes with being a personal cheerleader for each other. I reside in the most wonderful encouragement bubble and I’m so thankful for the family and friends I have for making that possible.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Sunlight. I love it when those rays come through my window. It’s a very gentle way of saying hello and that the day will be bright and welcoming.
What does it mean to you, to live a life and have a business – with SOUL?
It’s about being true to your authentic self. People can tell when you’re stepping outside of what makes you unique in favor of keeping up with the Joneses. At the same time, living life with soul means being in a state of perpetual learning. You have to motivate yourself to think deeper, reflect on where life is taking you, and how you can – and will – make your dreams come true. Nobody can do it for you but you.
It’s so true, it really is up to us to make those dreams come alive. Ok, shifting a tad, I want to talk about the senses. I’m a believer that our six senses (taste, see, smell, hear, touch, feel/intuition) are a pathway to fulfillment and joy. What do you feel is your predominant/favorite sense? Anything in particular that lights up your senses?
Oh absolutely! I’m a firm believer that the biggest aspect of communication, and one we largely do not utilize enough, is eye contact and body language. You can’t actually live and experience a full life when all you do is stare into your smartphone’s lens or at a computer screen. You have to go out and meet people, talk to them, get a feel for what they’re like and their own background story.
I wouldn’t say I have a favorite sense, but I am thankful on a daily basis that I have all of my senses. 🙂
Another not-so-random question: as a big birthday fan, I’d love to know your dream way to spend a birthday?
I love, love, love birthdays! My dream way to celebrate would be to go to a music festival with my girlfriends, either UMF in Miami or pretty much anything electronica in Ibiza. I’ve seen DJs perform in LA and the experience is always so overwhelming in the best possible way. You connect with the music on such a deep level, that it becomes a part of you. I would love to be surrounded by thousands of people all becoming one with the sound and sharing that experience together!
What are the top places you’d send me if I was visiting your ‘hood ?
Because I love them both, I’m gonna share places from my hometown of Saint Louis and my adopted home in Los Angeles.
- The City Museum
It’s an interactive museum you can climb all over with a Ferris wheel on the rooftop (that you can ride!) and a bar.
- Missouri Botanical Garden
A huge garden and outdoor space that is just gorgeous year-round. There’s also a maze in it for kids (and ahem, adults too!) that’s super fun.
- Pappy’s Smokehouse
If you like BBQ, this is a must!
- The Getty
It’s free and full of fantastic art and exhibits.
- Exchange LA
I’ve been to a lot of nightclubs in Los Angeles, but Exchange LA does the music and party scene on another level. Go for the Insomniac: Awakening nights!
- The Griddle Cafe
If you love doing brunch with huge portions and want to be on Sunset Blvd. this is your spot.
What are you working on right now that feels like a celebration?
I have a passion writing project that I have been researching for years and I’m knee deep in. It’s a very positive piece of work. And that’s about all I can share at the moment! *wink*
Oooh fun, can’t wait to hear more about it. I’m sure that you’ve learned a lot through all of your adventures. If you knew then, what you know now – what message would you have for your younger self?
Just keep doing you and don’t change a thing. You will do so much more than you ever thought you could.
And finally — what is one thing you know to be true?
No matter where you go, there you are.
. . . . . .
I’m so grateful to have Heather’s optimism and infectious spirit on this site. She is a breath of fresh air and as you can see, a huge creative heart. Thank you for being YOU Heather, and for sharing your words and insight with us all.
If you want to stay in-the-know about all of Heather’s TGWK posts, you can check them out on her contributor page.
Hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know our amazing Winter Guest Editor squad. We are oh-so-blessed to have such an incredible team of women here. And there are lots more to come. Stay tuned!
Photos courtesy of Heather Taylor