‘I’m convinced being a late bloomer in your career is a good thing,’ says Laura Belgray. ‘You know who you are, you’ve been able to hone your passion, you’re “failure-proof”, you get to take creative risks, and you know that things keep getting better.’
Laura is an award-winning copywriter, one-woman millionaire business owner and inspirational Instagram sensation. Her new memoir, Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You’re the F-ing Worst, charts her relatable – and outrageous – coming-of-age story, that will appeal to the late bloomer everywhere.
At 50, Laura is delighted to be the poster-girl for ‘lazy losers’. She says: ‘It’s never too late to be unapologetically yourself.’
Here she talks to Metro.co.uk about authenticity, embracing laziness and finally fulfilling your potential.
What’s your definition of happiness?
Happiness is about giving zero f**ks about what anyone thinks. Happiness is embracing my laziness. It is is stopping myself getting into loser, toxic relationships with people who were unavailable to me, and finally finding my husband. Happiness is being fully myself.
The moments where I am with somebody who makes me feel like my full self, my husband, for instance, or certain friends, is when I am happy. And when I’m with someone where I find myself being fake, or saying things that I don’t really feel or mean, that’s when I feel unhappy, and end up with a ‘hangover’ the next day.
How have you built one-woman copywriting business at the age of 50?
I decided to make a practice of writing to an audience on a regular basis, whether I was inspired or not. I built my business by being unabashedly myself – which is ironic, as this is what I was bullied for in middle school. At school, not fitting in can mean nowhere to sit in the school canteen, but as a brand, fitting in is the kiss of death. Being polished and perfect makes you boring and forgettable, and being unlike anyone else is the golden ticket.
Happiness is embracing laziness. Happiness is being fully myself.
Why are you writing your memoir now?
I’ve been writing this book for two decades, but I finally got my act together and started writing it in earnest in 2019.
I felt I finally had a satisfying arc to my life. My stories were always all about being a little bit of a ‘f**k up’, and not fulfilling my potential, and not quite being the person I wanted to be.
But at 50, I felt like I’d learnt how to tap into my talent and do the thing that I had always wanted to do – write and make people laugh. Finally, I was making great money doing work that I actually wouldn’t quit doing, even if I didn’t need to make another penny. And that is Nirvana.
My memoir is the back story of how someone like me actually came to start and run a successful business. I was a late bloomer and I don’t consider myself a leader. I never wanted a team, and never wanted to build a company – I couldn’t even make it to the office on time. There’s hope for everyone!
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a creative career?
Don’t overwhelm yourself by diving headfirst into all the things you are supposed to do, or you’ll fall into analysis paralysis – or as I call it, PDR: procrastination disguised as research.
Instead, start creating the thing you want to create, whether that is writing, or pottery, or photography, or writing a play. Start before you’re ready, and just start creating. Don’t create in the name of what will get engagement, create in the name of what you want to create. Then, put your stuff out there and don’t be afraid of being disliked by somebody. Nothing you put out is going to be for everyone, and if you create in the name of being for everyone, you will end up being for no one.
How do you get constructive feedback on your work?
When I first started blogging, I did not look for constructive feedback. All I looked for was positive feedback. I looked for people saying: ‘I loved reading this, this is exactly what I wanted to read today’. Even if you’re just starting out and nobody knows who you are, and you have no audience or following, you do have some people in your life who want to see what you’ve created, who want to enjoy it, and who will encourage you to keep going. Don’t go asking people for feedback, because they will find things to criticise. Nobody wants to say: ‘I don’t know, there’s nothing wrong with it.’ They will want to be useful, helpful, people and give you a list of criticisms – which is not what you want when you are just starting out.
But what if you’re like the contestants singing out of tune on the X Factor?
X Factor isn’t really a fair example, because they intentionally bring in some people who are awful. But if you are making a creative effort, you’ve probably been told for some part of your life that you are good at it. You’ve probably been encouraged by enough people to think it might be possible for you. And if you haven’t, then you’re probably in a culture of people who are begrudging, and/or afraid for you, or afraid for themselves. They don’t want to see an example of somebody expressing themselves or going for their dreams because it reflects on them, because they haven’t.
Don’t go asking people for feedback because they will find things to criticise.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Entrepreneur superstar and coach Marie Forleo advised me to start a blog and create an opt in box on my website, so that I could build an email list – even though I had no idea what for and I thought it was too late for me. I thought blogging was old hat, but that was the best advice I ever got in the business department.
The worst writing advice I’ve heard is: don’t write if you’re not inspired. I’ve heard: ‘Wait until you have something good to say, wait until you are inspired to sit down and write.’ This is terrible advice.
Writing doesn’t come from inspiration, or rarely does. It’s the opposite. Inspiration comes from sitting down and writing. And that’s true of any creative endeavour, sitting down and starting to do it, is what creates more ideas.
What’s your writing practice?
I am lazy. I don’t measure my self worth on how much I’ve got done, or how I’ve gone the extra mile. So, if I have the space to lie down and watch streaming shows on my iPad for hours, I will. But the one thing I am committed to every morning is starting my day with 750words.com. It’s a website that counts your words as you go, and then the word count lights up green when you hit 750. Every morning, I just write there – journaling and free association. There’s zero pressure to make it good. I just allow whatever comes out to comes out.
Before I start writing, I go out for a walk. I try to get a certain number of steps a day, and I just feel better about myself if I’ve gone out for a walk. I come back with my iced coffee, and put it next to my laptop, and I only allow myself to start drinking it when I start to write my 750 words. Creating that habit was a game changer for my life. It made me feel like I’m a real writer.
Someone once told me ‘a writer writes’. So, by starting this habit of writing every single morning, even if there is nothing good or usable and it’s mostly garbage, I am writing. Then I will move on to writing something that can be published – putting something out to my email list or creating an Instagram post with a caption.
I don’t measure my self worth on how much I’ve got done, or how I’ve gone the extra mile.
How have you balanced the idea of self-improvement and self-acceptance?
There are two competing messages in the self-help world. The first is: ‘Go for your dreams, be the person you want to be, be your best self, do the hard work, get out of your comfort zone.’ And then there’s also the message of being alignment and in flow, accepting yourself unconditionally and ‘loving what is’.
I think there’s nothing wrong with wanting more from your life and wanting more from yourself. If there’s something about yourself that you want to change, or improve, then go ahead and improve it.
You’ll find a lot of people talking about the perils of ‘woo woo’ practices, such as manifesting and magical thinking, but if you feel it works for you, then do it. Find what works for you. You might have to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what finally sticks, because then you’ve proven to yourself that you are capable of change.
Many of us who feel stuck in our lives feel like we’re too old, and that we’ll never change. It’s that belief that will keep you stuck. What works for me is building new habits. It is the best way to prove to myself that I am capable of change and of improving and getting out of my ruts.
I’m glad for all the mistakes I made.
Having written your very honest memoir, is there anything you would have done differently?
Honestly, I’m glad for all the mistakes I’ve made. My memoir is a big book of mistakes. I consider it a less of a ‘how to’ and more of a ‘how not to’. But as a writer, every mistake makes for a good story. And every mistake has led me exactly to where I’m supposed to be.
Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You’re the F-ing Worst is available for pre-order now.
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