Amina Frances is a writer currently living in Switzerland and working on her first book. She’s worked in industries ranging from education and advertising to hospitality and even event planning. Read on to learn how she turned what she once considered a hobby into her full-time dream career and what coaxes her out of bed in the morning (hint: it’s not coffee!).
- Name: Amina Frances
- Location: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
- Role: Writer
- Reason for Waking Up Every Day: Versatility from a creative career
- Next Thing She’s Going to Learn: Embroidery
- Go-To Learning Resource: Podcasts
- Favorite Place in Switzerland: The lake
- Find Out More: www.aminafrances.com
Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.
My background is kind of all over the place, to be honest. Out of college, I started my career as a teacher with Teach for America. For personal reasons, I left shortly thereafter, moving to Chicago with my (then boyfriend) now husband. In Chicago, I tried my hand at everything from Second City waitress to wedding planner until finding a temporary home with advertising.
I worked off and on as a strategist for about three years before a yoga craze, followed by a ten-day silent retreat, which led me back to a passion I’d always dreamed of pursuing as a kid: writing. So yeah, my road has been kind of a winding path. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What made you want to pursue your profession/area of focus?
Words are my love language. There are few things in life that I find more endearing than a handwritten letter or an expertly crafted sentence. In fact, I still cart around the exact same copy of To Kill A Mockingbird that I read for my eighth grade language arts class. That said, becoming a writer certainly hasn’t been a straight path for me. For a long time, I considered writing a hobby. But once I broke the seal—pouring over drafts, submitting a handful of my short stories to literary magazines—I was hooked.
What gets you excited to wake up every day?
I’m definitely a morning person, so waking up has never been a huge struggle for me. That said, I love the versatility that comes with choosing a creative career. Some days I wake up excited to cut my teeth on a new story. Other days, I love the slow and steady pace of editing. For the most part, though, nothing makes me feel more at peace than stepping outside first thing in the morning. There’s something about nature that really helps me prepare for my day. Since I don’t drink coffee, fresh air is my caffeine equivalent. I’m convinced this ritual makes me a kinder, more patient human being. And meditation and therapy, those things are important too.
What’s the best/most important thing you’ve learned or taught yourself? Why?
Patience. Though, I’m still learning this tough lesson. I’m definitely impulsive by nature, so coming to terms with the fact that good work often takes a long time to create has been a hard pill for me to swallow. Slowly, but surely, I’m learning to appreciate the little wins—polishing up an old chapter, following my characters down an unexpected path or even simply hitting my word count for the day.
What’s the next thing you’re going to learn or teach yourself? Why?
I’ve recently developed a mild obsession with embroidery. I love how so many people have taken such an old art and added a modern flair to it. I’d love to learn the craft, myself. But since I tend to veer on the side of all-or-nothing when it comes to projects, I’m settling for fangirling via Pinterest until I finish writing my current novel.
Do you have advice for finding a strong mentor/ building a relationship with one?
Be human. People (for the most part) like to help other people. When I first started my career at an advertising agency, the advice I received from female mentors was invaluable. While some of our conversations were certainly career-focused, most of them surrounded family life and hobbies outside of work.
They didn’t care as much about my career as they did about me being a happy, functional human being. They cheered for me personally far more than they cheered for me as an employee. I don’t know that I would have gotten that kind of support had I waltzed into their office with a Five-Year Plan or a list of demands.
Favorite resources for ongoing learning?
What’s your favorite spot where you currently live & why?
The lake. After years in Chicago, I’m convinced that there’s something magical about living by large bodies of water. Not to mention, that the view of the Alps always leaves me with a sense of awe and wonder about the world. I think it’s important to be reminded how small we are, from time to time. It keeps us humble.
I’m also a huge sucker for any and all local bakeries.
Out of all the places you’ve been, which has been your favorite and why?
- South Africa: My husband and I lived there for six months and everything from the landscape, to the wildlife, to the people are simply amazing. We traveled all over the country but lived and spent most of our time in Johannesburg. That city will always hold such a special place in my heart.
- Tanzania: We traveled here for our honeymoon. The heat definitely takes some getting used to but the historic winding roads, beautiful beaches and fresh seafood are not to be missed. While you may be tempted to stay at a resort, make sure to check out Stone Town, if you can. There are many bed and breakfasts to choose from and the staff, at each of them, are incredibly knowledgeable about the area. We stayed in Stone Town for the entirety of our trip and loved every second of it.
- London: The writing inspiration here is parallel to none. I love the energy of the city and the coffee shops are everything my Bridget Jones-obsessed pre-teen self imagined they would be!
And, of course, Switzerland!
Bonus: What’s the one thing you wish people would ask you?
Are you a Tibby, a Lena, a Carmen or a Bridget?