In conversation with

Emily Gosling

Writer & Editorial consultant at Red Setter




Great Minds Don’t Think Alike is a book that explores the working rituals of 56 creatives past and present, across design, film, art and music. It’s by freelance writer and PR editorial consultant, Emily Gosling, who has also written for publications like Creative Review, It’s Nice That, Elephant, Eye on Design and more. 

The only real ‘rituals’ I have aren’t conscious. But now that I think about it, I break up my days, frequently veering off to do non-computer-based things for a couple of minutes, like playing my bass…”  she tells us. 

We spoke to Emily about her working rituals and what she loves about copywriting.

Question and Answer

Your book, ‘Great Minds Don’t Think Alike’ is all about the rituals of 56 creatives. What’s your own ritual?

I’d love to say I get up at 6am and do a few sun salutations and make a spirulina smoothie or something – and before I worked from home I was much better, and went swimming before work and stuff, but realistically I get up with just enough time to put something vaguely respectable on my top half, brush my teeth and pop open a cherry Relentless. I’m currently phasing out the Relentless though because I’m not a teenage boy, and veering into a a very sweet milky Earl Grey tea (two bags in a Sports Direct mug) phase.

As far as writing rituals go, it sounds clichéd but I very often have my best ideas – maybe a breakthrough on a good angle or a pitch idea or an intro I’d been struggling with – when I’m not thinking about it, like when having a wee or popping to the shops or procrastinating by sweeping the floor.

I’ve always had not-the-best concentration span, which like most people has only got worse with lockdown, but I think that suits the sort of work I do. With Red Setter for instance, we work with a number of very different clients with very different things to say, and you have to be able to switch between different tasks (writing, idea generation, client meetings etc.) fairly quickly, so in a way that suits my inability to sit still.

The only real ‘rituals’ I have aren’t conscious: now I think about it, I unknowingly break up my days my frequently veering off to do non-computer-based things for a couple of minutes, like playing my bass (I’d love to make a shameless plug here for Superstation Twatville), or scraping the limescale from my toilet with a dinner knife (pro tip for hard water sufferers). Gymnastics and aerial hoop in the evenings and weekends stops me from totally losing it the rest of the time.

Which rituals from other creatives stood out to you?

David Lynch: I’ve long been a big big fan of David Lynch and so have long been interested in Transcendental Meditation (or T.M.) I love how he speaks about it and credits it with how he comes up with ideas (or ‘catching the big fish’); but he’s still such a mystery and a total kook. A lot of people I really respect are also T.M. advocates – my best friend, who’s a fantastic artist, and her lovely sound designer/artist collaborator are very into it; as is Claire, Red Setter’s cofounder. There’s got to be something in it; but when I tried it (half in the name of journalism, a bigger half for personal reasons) I found it slightly harrowing, but might be worth giving it another go now that I’m older, wiser and drinking less Relentless.

Patti Smith’s ideas about just seeing Jerry Garcia’s ghost and having a song come to her were pretty great too. Another one that springs to mind without me needing to open the book is Balzac, because he was so mental for coffee that he crushed it up and snorted it, the absolute nutter.

What do you love the most about copywriting?

It’s a really fun challenge to have to try and think (and write) how you think someone/something else might think and write. You sort of begin to subconsciously hear their accent or voice as your ‘writer’s inner monologue,’ if that makes sense. It’s like being an actor, I imagine, without having to be comfortable on a stage or in front of a camera. Acting for those with introvert tendencies, maybe.

From a journalism point of view, writing about something is a fantastic excuse to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t and ask them tonnes of questions and put yourself in strange situations. I’m also very lucky to be genuinely interested in what I write about; very often it’s things I’d want to research or talk about regardless of whether it’s work. There’s a real rush that comes from getting off the phone or leaving a meeting having navigated a tricky conversation in an okay/good way and getting a great story or insight out of someone. What can I say, I’m an adrenaline junkie.

What brands or platforms are you inspired by for their take on both words and design?

Burger King’s Twitter is hilarious, I really like it when brands can go sort of off-brand in a way, and aren’t just constantly on a very guarded, professional bent all the time.

The best Twitter account for both copy and design is Daytime Snaps, because it does both beautifully but without actually actively doing either. It’s the most perfect 21st century readymade art.

The Quietus is a really brilliant publication: the writing is absolutely superb, I don’t think there’s better music writing out there. The design is no-frills and that works perfectly.

NYT’s online longform content presentation is superb.

Emily's Storylist


  1. Bad Gateway by Simon Hanselmann
  2. I Remember by Joe Brainard
  3. The Argonaut by Maggie Nelson
  4. Reversing Into The Future: New Wave Graphics by Andrew Krivine


  1. Love It!
  2. Creative Review
  3. Electronic Sound


  1. PopBitch


  1. Woman’s Hour
  2. Kim Noble’s Prawn Facts
  3. Kim Noble’s Futile Attempts at Surviving Tomorrow
  4. Double Threat with Julie Klausner and Tom Scharpling


  1. BFI Player
  2. Nextdoor
  3. Bandcamp

Digital Platforms

  1. Drumbit
  2. Virtual piano
  3. Twitch TV
  4. Songsterr

More from The Journal

InterviewNatasha Collie

Natasha Collie

Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House UK

At the start of the year, Ladybird Books approached Sonder & Tell with a dream brief. In 2021, a year that’s been particularly challenging for...

InterviewTatton Spiller

Tatton Spiller

Founder Of Simple Politics

Talking about serious issues doesn’t mean defaulting into a serious tone of voice, or using complicated language. If anything, accessibility, clarity and a touch of...

Interviewloïs mills

Loïs Mills

Brand & Community Manager at Homethings

Creating a tone of voice from scratch can be challenging. But a blank slate to work from also mean there’s room for something a bit...

Previous Story
Chris Hill

Copywriter & Mentor at School of Communication Arts

Next Story
Dan Nelken

Creative Director & Author