About Andrea M. Darcy
writer and content expert in London/ Paris
My entire working life has been about words and ideas. And I am obsessed with the power of content to change the world. Not least as we are in an incredible moment in history where we are in the middle of an information war.
I feel that I am part of a movement that fights back with positive content that helps over harms. And I seem to have the gift! Over150 wellness and personal development articles at number one on Google right now, hundreds more in the top five for challenging search terms. And I've built a psychology blog to over 5 million visitors a year.
So how did I end up here, a successful online writer? I was already an award-winning fiction writer by age 14. A published journalist by 23, an associate editor by 26, an award-winning script writer by 27. At 28 I was a film school gradate with her first feature film optioned and a grant to write her first novel. So I have long made a living with words.
And alongside all this I was also a person fascinated by the evolution of self and by human potential.
My childhood was chaotic, but it also introduced me to things like meditation and energy healing at a very young age. By aged 16 I was investigating Buddhism, by 18 I was a determined atheist, at 23 I was exploring the New Age, and by 28 I was all about psychotherapy.
At some point I realised all great wisdom was from the same source, and became committed to the only religion I think makes sense -- that of human compassion and determined kindness.
Human evolution became my obsession. By 38, to the shock of many, I followed my intuition and left my successful career as a screenwriter and story editor and went over to self-development, retraining in coaching and counselling.
Then began my fascination with the online environment.
Always ahead of the curve, I retrained early in SEO writing and taught myself Wordpress, as I could see print media was on the way out. I then created a niche for myself in mental health and psychology content.
When other journalists were panicking as print work dried up I was already making a decent living online.
I've worked under many names, and for some years as a ghost (never again).
But in summary, if you read self development or psychology, you've already read my work.
I knew I'd reached some sort of pinnacle when I discovered over 100 websites built using my (stolen) content!
And when I was hiring a team of writers and someone sent me a writing sample... that was actually my own work. You can imagine the lovely letter I sent him in reply. Suffice to say he did not get the job!
My Story (for the Nosy Amongst You)
My career with words began at the age of 14 when a story I wrote won an award. When I showed up and was a reserved white girl and not the ballsy black girl that narrated the tale, I could see actual anger in the judges faces. See that they had felt smug about themselves and their choice to give the award to someone they assumed underprivileged and I had let them down (despite actually being underprivileged, living below the poverty line in a broken home).
Words were political. Words could make people feel conned. Words could make a young girl feel like she had done something wrong, or wasn't good enough.
I still had no intentions to be a writer. I had never even considered it. But in my first year attending uni to be a translator, I realised I had one week left to apply for a different stream the following year or be stuck in French hell forever. So I found myself frantically ploughing through the school's prospectus. I came across a Creative Writing program, thought it would do. Put together a portfolio over a few days, applied, and got accepted.
Needing money, I started pitching magazines, and was publishing with places like the then notorious Vice before graduating. (Not sure if I should admit that my first published article was on female ejaculation. But these things happen when you are writing for Vice).
As for my fiction, I was vainly convinced of my talent. Sent off a collection of shorts to Harper Collins, and quickly received a letter. The letter said they thought I had talent and the stories would be published elsewhere, but they would rather wait to see a first novel. Looking at this letter now I am stunned at my luck, and at how at that age I transformed this into a great rejection, as I had my heart set on Harper Collins for my shorts collection and only them.
I felt it was a lost cause, and took off to teach English in Japan for a year. Where I published a fanzine. As one does.
Let's go faster with this story. Got back to Toronto from Japan, needed a job, was told there was a callout for a job at some creative warehouse in the area. But the person who told me this couldn't remember what the job actually was, just what time you could go and interview. I stood in a line with no idea what I was lining up for!
And bagged the job of receptionist at a music video production company. Within a month I was writing treatments for videos that then had a director's name slapped on them and were doing well. Someone told me about a short film screenwriting contest. Wrote a script, won. Wrote a feature script in two weeks, got into the Canadian Film Centre with it (a prestigious Toronto film school that takes only eight writers from across Canada a year).
I only decided to work in film to make money to write novels. Instead ten years of my life passed in a frenzy of work. I became known as a story expert (I became obsessed with the mathematics of story, with structure, character development, the psychology of it all). I did thousands of script reports, worked as a story editor, and was paid to write seven feature films.
I then started directing shorts, won a decent budget for a 'calling card' short, and it was a massive disaster. Cue spoiled child actor with mother gone AWOL, L.A. art director high on coke who painted the wrong side of a house, a DOP who had planned all along to do a coup and make it his film, a driver who ended up having no license, and a soap star who seemed rightly horrified by it all.
The film got into festivals, but not the ones I wanted (I know I sound spoiled, but I was very ambitious and hard on myself). And I just decided, that wasn't fun. I'm done with film.
Nobody could believe me. But I packed my bags and moved to the UK and started working with a self-development company. Soon I was training in coaching and self-development.
Those who really knew me weren't surprised because self-development had been my obsessive hobby all along. I used to throw 'creative jams' in my apartment, and ran a 'girls with goals' group. I was fascinated by all things inner growth, from reading the entire Bible as a child, investigating Buddhism at aged 16, and devouring just about every self-help book going in my twenties.
Then I went back to school to be a person-centred therapist. Loved Carl Rogers and his theories. Hated the school I chose where the teachers didn't even vaguely live what they taught (the school had a 25% dropout rate that year due to those teachers, kicked off by yours truly leaving first. Always a leader, me, ha!).
A few months later I saw an ad looking for a qualified therapist to write blog posts. I applied, admitting I didn't finish my training but was on the other hand a great writer. And so began my career writing mental health and psychology content.
I then trained in SEO writing, and taught myself Wordpress, as well as things like course creation, email marketing, and content management systems. I became absolutely fascinated by the power of the internet to spread ideas. At one point I was running ten sites.
And I'm still fascinated. Massively passionate. Content is queen, and everything in between. Let's work together and do something important with the time we have in this wild, wonderful, and sometimes terrifying world.