My name is Nicola Pittam and I’m an author, screenwriter and journalist
How did you get your current job?
By making one of the toughest decisions of my career! I had been a journalist for almost 25 years. I’d started on my local weekly paper straight after my A levels and by the age of 21 I was working at The Sun as a news reporter.
At 26 I moved to Los Angeles to freelance and about 6 months later started working for Splash News Agency, a celebrity agency run by two British guys. I was with Splash for almost 14 years, becoming Head of News and Features and overseeing reporters in their offices around the world including LA, New York, Miami, London, Tokyo and Australia. But then in 2011, the owners sold the company to Corbis (owned by Bill Gates) and it turned very corporate very quickly.
By then I had started doing other writing outside of journalism and had published one book – a biography that I wrote with Angie Best (George Best’s ex-wife) – and had another biography on the actor Christian Bale coming out in summer 2012 – so I made the decision to quit my job with Splash and focus more on being an author and also a screenwriter.
I still do some freelance journalism work to pay the bills – some real life features for the UK women’s magazines like That Life, Bella, Full House etc….and supplying celebrity stories and photos for the UK papers as well as the Sun Online and Daily Mail Online. But I’m also working on 2 more books, have completed a TV pilot and am also just finishing a movie screenplay.
What does an average day look like?
It really depends how late I’ve worked the night before. A lot of the freelance celebrity journalism work I do is in the evenings – which is great as it leaves me most of the day to do my other writing – but that means sometimes I don’t get to bed until 2 or 3am. But I generally try to be up by 9am at the latest! I do a couple of hours writing in the morning, then I take a break, work out or meet a friend for lunch, then some more writing in the afternoon until around 4pm. Then another break! And then I usually start the journalism work around 7-8pm, which does involve watching a lot of terrible TV in the evening – celebrity interviews on chat shows or appearances on other shows. Often when you see a story on the Mail Online about a celebrity on a show – or something that the Real Housewives or the Kardashians have done, chances are I’ve had the misfortune to watch the show and write about it !!
(Here’s an example of one story that I supplied the UK papers this week that that Mail Online and several other publications ran:
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m doing something that I really love. I’m really lucky in that I have the journalism skills and experience that allows me to bring in really good money that in turn gives me the freedom to do the writing that I really love – which is writing movies and novels.
Are there any downsides?
It can be lonely. Until a year ago I worked in a busy office with some great people, who are still good friends, but now it’s just me at home on my own! I have to make sure I don’t become too anti-social sometimes if I get caught up writing. Also, I have to make sure that I stay focused – some days it’s easy to get caught up watching daytime TV or watching movies or reading books when I should be writing – there’s no-one to give you accountability – it’s all down to you !
What did you want to be as a child?
From the age of 8, I’d always wanted to be a journalist.
If you could do any other job, what would you choose?
There was nothing else that even appealed to me and even now I just can’t imagine doing anything else than writing. Having said that, one of my ambitions is one day to own a winery. However – the plan is to have someone else run it and just enjoy the end product !