Creativity is a Positive Way of Living in the World

Ellen Phethean, writer, poet & sound artist.

This week we’re introducing Ellen Phethean, a writer based in Newcastle, UK. Ellen was born in London and moved to the North East to work in community and women’s theatre. She was an advice worker and had two children before going back into freelance writing. Now she teaches creative writing, writes poetry, and novels for young adults and runs workshops with other artists. You can buy her books here. Ellen also really enjoys working with groups to encourage others to write and express themselves.

In 1 sentence, what is the purpose of the work you do?

To keep learning, so that I can write to the best of my ability.

What book, film, YouTube video, radio program or podcast has most inspired you recently and how?

Grief is the thing with Feathers by Max Porter, because it reveals how prose and poetry can be mixed together and words on the page needn’t be fixed in blocks but can cover the white space in all sorts of way.

When you feel a resistance to work or a bit down/tired, what helps you to renew your focus?

Swimming, going for a walk, reading.

Who do you go to for advice or to help you talk over your business/creative plans and ideas?

Other writers who I respect.

As a freelancer what do you struggle with the most and how do you manage that?

Time management: what appears to be too much time can be frittered; being busy and having deadlines mean I often get more done. I try and manage it by giving myself writing goals, short and long term.

What is your greatest joy about the work you do?

Thinking up ideas and solving story problems or reworking a poem, making it read better. Hours can pass, lost in creative work.

If money were no obstacle and you could invest as much as you need into your business, what’s the biggest dream you have for your project?

More writing, and being able to afford to travel to lovely places, explore and stay so I could write, inspired by them.

Can you tell us 3 main values that you live your life by and that inform how you work?

Ignore my self doubt, approach the world with love, follow my passion.

What kind of positive change are you aiming to make in the world through the work you do?

Empathy and understanding of other’s point of view, encouraging people (myself) to question assumptions and perhaps change their (my) mind.

What does the word “creativity” mean to you?

A positive way of living in the world.

Do you have any lessons to share that you’ve learnt about being a freelancer / creative / small business owner that might help someone thinking of pursuing their own project?

Worrying about money should not be top of your list, otherwise you’d never dare to do anything.

Ellen tweets as @phethean and her instagram is @ellenphethean. You can visit her website here.

One of Ellen’s writing sessions at The Cumberland Arms

One of our core values is collaboration over competition. We encourage a culture of lifting each other up, of delighting in each other’s unique skills and offerings. So we run an interview series to introduce some of the freelancers, creatives and small business owners that inspire us! They’re an incredible bunch each with their own unique words of wisdom to motivate and inspire our readers. Interested in being featured? We’d love to hear from you! Just send an email introducing yourself to



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