Mélanie Berliet has had an awesome and interesting career. She was a bond trader on Wall Street for three years before quitting to pursue the life of a writer. As a journalist, she became a digital pioneer of sorts for publications like Vanity Fair and New York Magazine writing first-person exposés of various bizarre subcultures. She also wrote a memoir, Surviving In Spirit, for Thought Catalog Books, in which recounts her late sister’s battle with alcohol addiction.
In this creative spotlight, Mélanie reveals the ins and outs of how she does what she does, and explains what a perfect day looks like for her.
What would you say if you were asked to describe your “job” to someone? I like to say that I’m a digital media executive. If I say that I’m a writer I’m immediately asked about what I’m working on and then given suggestions about what I should be working on (because everyone secretly fantasizes about being a writer, which is annoying, even if the gesture’s well-intentioned).
What are the main things that you do during the day? I brainstorm, analyze data, strategize, research, write, and build / manage relationships.
Describe how a typical morning starts out for you when you’re working. I touch base with Chris, the Founder of Thought Catalog, and then I dive head first into the most pressing item of the day, which really varies quite a bit. Also coffee.
Coffee, Tea, or Something Else? Whoops! I totally scooped myself. Coffee—nothing fancy, just good ol’ regular Joe.
How do you structure your time? I’m a freak about To Do lists. I start each day by writing out my To Do’s, generally in order from most to least pressing, and I take great pleasure in crossing off each item one by one. Unfortunately, I rarely accomplish everything I want to in a day, which is why, for example, I took a BAZILLION YEARS to answer this survey (if by “a bazillion years” I mean a little over three months).
Do you work 9 to 5 or something like it? Why or why not? I am generally in the office from 9 to 5 because our nanny works from 8 to 6. But I really love what I do, so I tend to be online frequently outside that timeframe too. For example, it’s 10am on a Saturday morning right now. I’m lying in bed with no pants on answering these questions while sipping coffee and I’m having fun doing it!
What’s something you do that takes up the bulk of your time? Writing definitely takes up a lot of time. But if you mean outside of work, I’ve gotta go with childrearing. Also, folding laundry. I don’t know how it happens but there is ALWAYS so much laundry to do!!!
What’s something about your workday that you think would surprise people? Perhaps how often I Google random shit like “how to send a giphy in Slack” (sad, I know) or “what is Scarlet Fever and can you die from it” or “does breastfeeding make your nipples floppy.”
What do you find the most stressful when working? Being super excited about fifty different things simultaneously and having to pick which project to pursue first.
What’s your favorite thing about being in a creative industry? I love working with other creatives. Seriously, my coworkers are THE BEST. When you work with so many smart, interesting people, it makes everything about your work day better. Also, I feel like I really get to use my brain in challenging ways that are endlessly stimulating. Back when I worked on Wall Street (over a decade ago now!), I felt so trapped intellectually. Thankfully, I had the good sense to escape the financial industry. It is so much more rewarding to spend my time creating stuff.
How does your day usually wrap up? Towards the end of the day I’ll peak at my calendar for the following day and make sure I’m prepared to tackle whatever’s on the next day’s agenda. Then I’ll answer any lingering questions on Slack and check what’s trending once more before heading out the door.
List between 5 and 8 things that you absolutely cannot make it through a workday without. My Moleskine, access to coffee, a snack at 3pm precisely (almost always unsalted cashews), and a little cyberstalking.
And, last, I must ask: What’s your favorite article of all time on Thought Catalog? I’ve always liked This Is How We Date Now and, hah, of course my own work, like this crazy gem of article about relationships or this one about motherhood.