Good writing is all about getting personal

Making an impact lies in our will of contribution. Some of us do that by volunteering, others by mentoring, some by writing compelling stories that touch a bunch of people. Whatever your armor, don’t underestimate the power of making the world a better place. You will be surprised about how much potential you have.

I’m a true believer in the power of storytelling, so I felt lucky when I found out that Effie trusted Noto, our notebook inspired WordPress theme, to showcase her authentic stories. I wanted to dig deeper and learn more about what drives her creative fuel, and what’s her approach on good writing.

Even though she’s on the go at the moment — she’s founding a new company and traveling at the same time, Effie made room to answer my questions. From our conversation, you have the chance to get a grasp of what it feels to be a young yet stubborn writer, how to find inspiration to keep momentum, and why writing is such a liberating act of creation. And yes, you’ll also discover a few tips about why she thinks Noto is the right match for her digital crib.

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How does it feel to be a 28 years old writer in Graz, Austria?

Graz has an amazing infrastructure and culture for writers. Besides that, it’s pretty much like every other place. Although, it’s inspired me to write my first blog posts and many of my stories are set here.

What authors shaped your personality as a writer?

The first book I fell in love with was “The Philosopher’s Stone”. Later I studied German literature, so I read all the classics and one of the writers who touched me the most was  Heinrich Heine. I just love the irony in his poems. My favourite is “Breakfast” (in English):

The bottles are empty, the breakfast was good, 
the little ladies are rosy heated; 
They ventilate the bodice with arrogance, 
I think they are bespitzet. 

The shoulder as white, the breasts how nice! 
My heart trembles with terror. 
Now, laughing, they throw themselves on the bed, 
and cover themselves with the blankets. 

Now they even pull on the curtains, 
And at the end they are snoring at the end, 
There I stand in the room, a lonely gate, 
Consider embarrassed the bed.

What kind of writing style fits you best?

I love to explore while I am writing. Planning and plotting just doesn’t work for me. If I know the story from the beginning I am not interested in writing it.

I love to dream about all the stories that could have taken on an old park bench or who might have lived in that abandoned house.

By the way, what fascinates me most about writing is probably the idea that you get to create something completely new. Something absolutely crazy, and if you write well it will feel almost real.


What’s your creative process as a writer?

Oh, I don’t have a process that is set in stone. Although, I mostly start by collecting ideas and stories in one of my notebooks. Often, my thoughts sound much better when I write them down. After that, I work with Scrivener, but only the texts I love make it to the computer. The finished articles end up on my website.

However, I still like to work on them in the WordPress editor. There is a whole different feeling to a text and its structure when you see it on a website. I make adjustments and then schedule it for publication.

How would you describe the lifestyle that you picture through your stories?

Well, the first thing is that I spend a lot of time in cafés. It really inspires me to write there and be around people. Writing can be very lonely sometimes. I work independently, and that means that I can organize my day how I like. I usually build it around my inspiration and follow my flow.

Besides that, I try to live a minimalist lifestyle because I don’t want to make my life about working and consuming. There are so many things I don’t need, like a car, a fancy phone or a full wardrobe. I would not trade any of those things against the freedom to do what I love and live wherever I want, and that really defines my lifestyle.

How does it feel to be a bohemian in such a non‐bohemian world?

To me, being a bohemian means to find your own way in this world. We are all influenced by our environment and often we make decisions based on other people’s experience or what’s expected from us. The thing about being a bohemian is to not care enough about other people’s opinion to stop pursuing one’s own path. No matter where it leads.


What motivated you to create a digital crib for your stories?

I’ve just always wanted to have a place to share my stories. If you take a look at my desk you’ll see half a dozen of notebooks, each of them filled with half‐finished stories, ideas or even questions. I just don’t want my stories to be forgotten like that. That’s why I have created my blog.

Nowadays, writers are much more connected with their audience. Many are using social media to talk directly to fans and to share their daily lives.


How do you create connections with your readers?

I think that the best way to create a connection is by getting personal. That means actually to share your thoughts, doubts and stories. I know that it can be pretty scary, but I believe that it’s worth it.

There is so much power in sharing something personal. And yes, what my readers say influences me. They have already given me many great ideas by asking the right questions.


How did you come across Noto and how’s the experience of using it?

I found Noto through Instagram while I was looking for a new look for my website. I fell in love with it right away and I still think that it’s the perfect template for me. Especially, because it’s not as focused on photography like most of the WordPress templates are. Noto puts the spotlight on words and that is special.

What would you say about Noto to a fellow writer?

I think that writers would love Noto because it has that notebook vibe. In addition, it’s really simple to use and I believe most writers don’t want to spend days setting up their WordPress website. However, the biggest plus is that it’s the perfect showcase for written words.

Effie talking about her experience with Pixelgrade

In the end, what would you say to a writer who doesn’t have the courage to show up?

Sharing your work can really give you insight and help you to progress. Whether it is on the Internet or with some trusted friends. Feedback that you get from strangers online is less dangerous. It’s easier to accept constructive criticism from a stranger than from a friend.

If you don’t want to share your writing yet just keep writing for yourself. That’s the point of writing. You don’t need to share it with anyone. Although, it can be very rewarding.

One thing you can do to feel more confident as a writer is editing. Once you finished a story, let it rest for at least two weeks and then go over again. Try to improve the style, look for mistakes and ask yourself: does it make sense the way I wrote it or should I change the setting, character, perspective?


I read a bunch of Effie’s articles, so please allow me to share with you a few words that touched my emotions and made me feel that I am not alone. Because yes, writing could sometimes act like a friendly reminder that we are more alike than different. Here’s a snippet:

When you are so deep in it, it’s hard to see what you want and who you are. You only see the image of how you think you should be. You easily forget who you want to be. And mostly, when you try to fit into something that is not you, you suck at it and that feels even worse.

I tried so hard to write those stories I didn’t care about and, of course, I sucked at it. Simply, because I never cared enough to actually become good at it. I also didn’t identify with what I was doing. Which led to me not appreciating the outcome. via

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Oana Filip

Oana Filip is a digital storyteller @Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place.