Write Your Book



a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

I'm Stacy Ennis,

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Episode 134 | How to think like a poker player, with Alex O’Brien

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I'm a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

Hi, I'm Stacy

A few months ago, I saw author Alex O’Brien on stage at Web Summit. Not only did she give excellent answers to questions on writing, AI, and beyond at Web Summit, but she also beautifully represented how I hope every author shows up when they talk about their work: with confidence, passion, and a genuine care to make a difference in this world.

Alex is a science writer and professional poker player whose work has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, BBC, New Scientist, and The Times. Her first book, The Truth Detective, is a nonfiction science book on how to think like a poker player. In this week’s episode, we talk about:

  • Alex’s journey as a science writer (and mine too)
  • Stories from the poker table and how the rules of poker apply to daily life, including improving one’s mindset and decision-making
  • Her writing process: how she came up with the concept of her book, The Truth Detective, and what the writing process was like (spoiler: it took her four years to finish)
  • Challenges she faced during the writing process and how she overcame them to write a book she’s proud of
  • How to get involved in science writing—a passion of hers

As you’ll learn in this week’s episode, Alex is an advocate for early critical thinking and works closely with educational institutions to help guide future generations into asking the right questions to then make smarter and wiser decisions for themselves. There are so many gems in this conversation—don’t miss it!

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Transcripts for Episode 134

These transcripts were generated by robots, not writers.

Alex: When we are confronted with a data set or piece of information that there are a set of questions that you can immediately ask. You don’t have to be a scientist or a poker player or mathematician or a Nobel Prize winner to ask those questions. The fundamental questions where does this data come from or the information come from? What is the source? Is it a reliable source to our noticed source? What is the sample size? What time was this sent? What was a specific question asked? How many people were asked? What demographic? I mean, the list goes on. You don’t need to. But the question immediately needs to be, can I trust this source? And why am I being sent this or shown this information right now at this moment in time?

Stacy: Welcome, welcome. I am so excited this week to get to talk about a couple things. I love having conversations about science, writing, about decision making. And this week’s guest is the perfect person to talk to about this. I saw her on stage at Web Summit. That’s where I first met her.

Stacy: And when I heard her talk, I thought, I have to connect with her after because she just showed up with such clarity of just how she presented her ideas, really authentic. And I knew that I needed to share her work, her ideas, and her voice with you. Now, one thing I want to say before I delve into this topic of science writing is if you’ve been following my work or listening to this podcast for any length of time, you know that I actually started my work in the world of science writing. So I have a real love and passion for really doing your research and deeply understanding the work that you’re putting out into the world.

Stacy: I spent the first part of my career at a scientific journal, worked with a Nobel Prize winner in medicine for four years as his ghostwriter, and spent a lot of time learning how to do primary research, really think critically and then digest that information and share that with other people, which I think is actually the hardest part of all of this, to taking in a lot of information and then communicating it really clearly, which is what this week’s guest is an expert at. So I’m excited to introduce you to Alex O’Brien. She is a science writer and professional poker player. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Guardian, BBC, New Scientist and the Times.

Stacy: She is an advocate for early critical thinking and thus works closely with educational institutions to help guide future generations into asking the right questions to then make smarter and wiser decisions for themselves. Her first book, the Truth Detective, is non fiction science book on how to think like a poker player. Alex, welcome. I’m so glad to have you here.

Alex: Oh, it’s super to be here. And also I just found out that you’re a science writer as well. So I’m very excited about this conversation. Thanks for having me.

Stacy: I would love to hear a bit about your background because you have a really unique, just, I think, just the way that you live your life and the work that you do. You’re a science writer, you’re a poker player. Can you tell me a little bit about what led you into these two areas of interest and also in this kind of intersection of decision making and how those pieces connect?

Alex: Yeah, sure. I have to say, I didn’t start off as a science writer, so I came into the profession via a previous career in creative advertising. And I don’t want to call it a midlife crisis, but I think I came to a point in the career where I had done everything I wanted to do with it and that it actually was my husband who said, you’re a really good writer, I think you should write full time. The problem was at school as a young teenager, I was always told that I wasn’t any good at writing. And I went to really elite school. I grew up in Germany and I wasn’t one of the smartest kids. So naturally, I completely discounted going to science, anything to do with science, because I didn’t think I was smart enough even for that.

Alex: But my love for science was always there. Even through my korean creative, where I was actually writing about the intersection of consumer behavior and science, how one is directing the other or influencing the other. And I love that all the Venn diagrams that have science in them is very exciting to me and engages mentally, so much so it’s really fun for me and exciting to learn about. So I then quit my job and then did a few writing classes at Stanford University. You know, as a German, we’d like to know. I’m joking about this, but I’m serious. We need to have certificates to say that we are able to do something. So unlike in the UK, where a lot of things are merit based, I mean, there’s something to be said about that, too.

Alex: You can progress much quicker here in this country if you show that you’re willing and able in Germany, you have to go through those steps that’s maybe also good in different things. So I started writing and then poker came sort of halfway through that career when, through another friend of mine who is also a writer, I found out that she was playing poker and I asked her to teach me, and then she taught me how to play and I fell in love with the game. And then as I studied it more and more, I realized again, there’s a Venn diagram here. That was just so exciting. There were so many overlaps and it was so exciting. And so, what’s the word?

Alex: New in many ways, sort of approaching sciences from a poker player perspective, that I felt like I really wanted to write about that. And that’s how that came about.

Stacy: I love so much of your story, and I’m going to come for sure, back around to poker, but I’d love to talk a little bit about your self perception, as, you know, not a writer. And just also that part of you that was like, oh, I wasn’t the most successful academic person at this elite school. That really resonates with me. I never considered myself to be good at science. In fact, I discovered a loophole in the US education system that I only had to take two years of science in high school, and I was like, done, okay, I’m not taking any more science.

Stacy: And it’s interesting because I think for me, really approaching writing and science together and learning that it doesn’t have to be out practicing the science, but actually being able to take in, analyze and translate that for other people to be able to understand was a whole other orientation to the world of science that I found really exciting. And also that process of vetting and really digging in and saying, okay, well, the study revealed this thing, but let me understand what a good study is and how do we evaluate that and how do I interpret this? That’s this whole other area that’s so different than I think we’re exposed to as children. But what I find really cool when I listen to your story is you are able to overcome those, that self talk, that inner, that kind of identity piece that you held.
Stacy: How I’d love to hear a little bit about that journey.

Alex: I think a lot of it was driven by passion and then also by the understanding that actually, the limitations that I thought were in my way were set by other people. Right. Those limitations I don’t need to adhere to. I can push through those. And I know I’m not a naturally talented person. I always say that things don’t come easy to me. I have to work really hard, even with poker. I have to study three times as long to achieve the same results as somebody else, for example, that is extremely talented. But I can work hard. And what made it easy for me was this absolute love for science and how the world works and who makes these amazing. Comes up with these amazing researches and innovations and inventions.

Alex: I love that because if you think about life a bit too much, it kind of messes with your brain. Why are we. Why are we aging? Why do we need water? Why don’t we. You get emotional, and why do we die? And then what happens? And why. How is it that I don’t remember being born? Like, but the fact that there’s so many people out there that are investigating these big ideas, finding some answers, and I get to speak to them and I get to have an insight into their thinking, into their days, and share their incredible work, that helps us a little bit about, okay, this is humanity, this is life. I find that purposeful and very rewarding. And, yeah, I think I’ve always been a person that questioned a lot and that was curious and that curiosity stays with me.

Alex: I’ve always said I will never become a full time poker player because I just love finding out things all the time and hearing about new research and these really incredible characters and scientists who also push through adversity or keep going with some cancer researchers, or Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, like those big diseases that affect so many of us. And there are people that day in, day out, keep going to the lab, keep looking for answers. And those are the ones that really inspire me. And if I can play a teeny, tiny role in spreading their work and introducing their work to a wider audience, how lucky am I.

Stacy: I love that orientation to the world of science. And I would often, a lot of times people would ask me back when I was a ghostwriter for this, especially when I was working with the Nobel Prize winner that I mentioned earlier and some of the other high profile people I would work with, they’d go, oh, aren’t you, isn’t it hard for you to use your craft and have it come out with somebody else’s name attached to it? And I would always say no, because actually, I’m bringing my talent and skill. I have spent my whole life developing this one skill and craft. This person has spent decades of their life studying a molecule. Of course they’re not going to learn how to write a book or have, you know, have the time and energy to craft, you know, like, learn this craft of writing.

Stacy: So I love that you’re able to bring this skill of writing and further science and the communication of what’s being discovered in the world of science. One of the things that you talk about in your book is how a lot of people don’t really understand how scientific inquiry works, how we are constantly, I mean, really in science, like the big s science, we are constantly checking those things that we’ve discovered and pushing forward our knowledge with new discoveries that are made right through different studies. Sometimes they’re hard to replicate. Sometimes we can replicate them and further our understanding in that area. And I’d love for you to talk a little bit about the world of science and how we can apply some of the things that scientific researchers use in their work to help us better decision makers in our lives.

Alex: So scientists and poker players are pretty similar. They go through a checklist of questions when they approach their research or project for the poker table, and when they have to make decisions or deviate from a previous strategy. Both scientists and poker players, scientists will get their answers pretty quickly if perhaps one method didn’t yield the results that they expected. But they’re not like poker players. They’re not deterred by that because they thought that is just a way that they found out it doesn’t work. So it gives them a answer to then deviate, adjust, and re engage with their process. And poker players are exactly the same, their losses or failures. They don’t take them as, oh, I failed here. They take them as part of the process. They’re focused on the process. And scientists are very much process orientated.

Alex: So they have a lot of similarities there. And in terms of critical thinking, it’s like I said, going through a set of questions, making sure they cover all the angles, and being very methodological in that approach. And you wouldn’t expect that from poker players, but they’re very much. The approach they bring to the table is very scientific in a lot of ways. And in terms of how we become more like scientists or poker players, is to understand that when we are confronted with a data set or piece of information, that there are a set of questions that you can immediately ask. You don’t have to be a scientist or poker player or mathematician or a Nobel Prize winner to ask those questions. The fundamental questions, where does this data come from? Or the information come from? What is the source?

Alex: Is it a reliable source? Do I know the source? What is the sample size? What time was this sent? What was the specific question asked? How many people were asked? What demographic? I mean, the list goes on. You don’t need to. But the question immediately needs to be, can I trust this source? And why am I being sent this or shown this information right now at this moment in time? You know, I always wonder, what is it in for them? If it’s a data set that says, I don’t know, 20% of all Democrats will be voting for a republican candidate this year? Okay, so 20% of how many where, what polling company or resource has been asked the question? There’s so many things that can go so that 20% could sound a lot, but 20% of what number, what sample size?

Alex: And what exactly was the question asked? Was it between Trump and Nikki Haley? For example, did 20% decide to vote for Nikki Haley or Trump? They’re both republican candidates. So, yeah, I mean, you just need to be in the habit of becoming an interrogator, and that should be empowering you, because you don’t have to take that information on if it’s not a sincere or an accurate data set or information.

Stacy: I think one of the things that, I mean, what I hear you advocating for, and certainly I even said it in your bio, is really critical thinking. And we live in a time where so much of that, I think, we don’t even realize that we’re outsourcing a lot of the time rather than really taking in something and doing those checks. Of all of these questions and so many more, I think, of being able to evaluate something that’s of importance to us. I’d love to now kind of shift into poker a little bit more, because one of the things that’s so fun about your book is all of your poker stories. There’s so many high stakes moments that you’ve experienced.

Stacy: And certainly, I’m sure, since publishing the book, and I know you’re about to go into a poker period here pretty soon, I’d love for you to just take us kind of maybe into a specific story or just kind of a general kind of moment at the poker table. And what are some of the things that you do in the moment or in a game to help you with your decision making? One of the things that I think is so fascinating about poker that I didn’t realize before reading your book is how strategic it is and how much skill goes into it. So I’d love to hear a bit from you on how do you like, how do you make decisions and win at the boker table?

Alex: Well, it depends. Like in any strategic game, it depends a lot on the setup. So the setup could be just one table, and your aim is to win that, come up as the winner of that one table, or it’s just with another player, or it’s a big tournament where you play against thousands, like in the World Series. The main event sees over 10,000 players each year, and you have to beat every single one of them. So your strategy changes depending on a number of variables. Overall, my attitude is to prepare, but to make sure that I’m physically and mentally in the best position to endure. And I use the word endure because it is an endurance test, sitting at the table for at least twelve to 14 hours per day.

Alex: If it’s a tournament, it’s played over several days, and you have to be in the best physical condition to make sure that you’re making sound, smart decisions. Because every hand is a puzzle. And the way I describe poker is that it’s this multidimensional, highly cerebral puzzle game. And each hand is a puzzle that you are playing with one, two or three more players as you progress. And for me, it requires eating well, being hydrated, sleeping and meditating as well. So it is a lot like any other performance sport, and I do say performance board or mind sport, because a lot goes into assessing every single piece of information that you see at the tables.

Alex: So whilst in comparison to chess, for example, where all the information is right in front of you, because you’re playing against an opponent and you both have access to the same information, whereas in poker you don’t, you only know the cards that you’re holding and the community cards that fall on the board, and then you can make assumptions on what your opponents might be holding. Those assumptions are based on mathematically calculated formulae. So each position at the table has a set of cards, we call them a range of cards, that position should be optimally playing. So you have an idea of what your parent might be holding and based on that idea and assumption, you then optimize your strategies. That happens every hand. So yes, preparing like an athlete.

Alex: And it is not uncommon that if you’re playing a multi day tournament that you will be playing between twelve and 14 hours and just making sure that you are prepared. You’ve studied and, you know, assessing your opponents, you will soon understand by their playing style, even if they are professionals, if they are playing game theory optimally, if they are perhaps aggressive players, if they’re even, you know, players who don’t like women, because that shows as well. So there’s a lot of variables you take on board, so not a lot of information that you can take to then adjust your playing strategy.

Stacy: Wow, it sounds like, you know, like a microcosm of all the other difficult situations that we encounter in our life. We’ve got the sexism going, we’re making assumptions about, you know, what other people are holding or thinking, you know, that’s sounds very high intensity. I’m sure you’ve had some crushing defeats along with some highs throughout your poker career. I’d love to take a moment to hear about one of those moments where you thought that you had done everything right, you were prepared for a victory, and then it turned out completely not the way you wanted. And what did you take from that you’ve been able to then apply to future situations?

Alex: Oh gosh, so many. I mean, my recent play was last year at the UK Ireland poker tour in London at the women’s championship. And I was sort of in the middle of the pack for the entire day and then made the final table and then cruised through to heads up play. So it’s myself and another player and they put the trophy right in front of you, in the middle between the two of you. And I really wanted to win this trophy and I had worked hard. Like I said, I recently increased my study time. Very self disciplined, I’m focused. I been hunting a trophy for a while now. And then I came into that heads up game as the shorter off, sort of as the underdog because the other player had four times the amount of chips.

Alex: Then it flipped and I had the most amount of chips and it came to the last hand, basically what is what we call a bad beat. I had the best hand, but you know, you still have to see what the community cards bring because you have to make the best hands with the two that you’re holding and the ones that are falling on the board. And basically, I lost based on a bad beat because the person opposite me, the opponent, had paired a card and won the tournament, basically. And I came second, and I shed some tears because you were so exhausted. It was two and a half hours of playing heads up, and it was so, you know, it was there for me to take. But what I take from that is, I’m a strong player. I confident at the tables.

Alex: I know what I’m doing. A win is coming. So it felt really emotional at the time because I thought, wow, today’s the day. I’m getting this. And then even when we in the final hand, when we go all in and I see that I’m ahead, and then you get crushed, that’s the game. You accept it, and you move on, and then you go, okay, the next one. And that is essentially what poker players do, right. The game teaches you not to dwell on failures and focus on those and to focus on the process, not on the results, and to move on and then start putting your energy into the next thing. And that has been incredibly useful for me in real life, too, because you start nurturing that habit and that attitude to life, not just in the poker tables.

Alex: It kind of is inevitable that you then apply that attitude to everything. So, yeah, it’s such wide application.

Stacy: I mean, I was thinking parenting, relationships, work, things. There’s such a wide application to that. I think that the other thing that calls up for me is, I mean, you use the word failure, and I think we have such fear of using that word like it’s. It somehow means we’re a failure. But actually, what I hear you say as you talk about this experience at the poker table, and I apply this in my own life, too, when I have things that didn’t go the way that I wanted them to go, call it what it is and learn from it. And, you know, actually, I think those failures teach us more, because if you’re always winning all the time, then what are you taking from that?

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. The repeat, like no other game teaches you failing and like poker, because it’s such an emotional way of failing. But. And I say emotional because oftentimes you can have the best hand, which, the best starting hand in poker’s aces, and you are favored to win against any other hand. 90%, 95%, but not 100%. There’s always that element that you could lose. And in life, too, you can make the best decision in every scenario, but you’re not in control of the other person and the other person’s decision making. Right. We don’t live in a vacuum. When you understand that, you become a lot more philosophical and a lot more zen about everything else.

Alex: And as poker players, you make peace with the fact that losing is part of the game and that this element of variance where aces will lose 510 percent of the time on a heads up scenario, you understand, you accept that and you’re okay with that, and you move on. And that really applies in real life, too. And the more you do it, the more I want to say, desensitized to failure you get. You’re more accepting about it, of course. I mean, there’s certain things in life that you are just going to get upset about, but it’s the amount of time you spend being upset before you then start, okay, there’s nothing else I can do about this. Let’s move on. Let’s find a different solution or, okay, this is done now. I’m okay. I’m okay with it in some shape or form.

Alex: Yeah, I feel like I’m a lot more. If I had to visualize my emotions pre poker and the way they were oscillating, you know, they would have been very wide ranging before then. Right now, as a veteran poker player, I feel like I’m oscillating sort of very minimally. You know, I still get upset.

Stacy: Still.

Alex: We’re humans. We’re supposed to show emotions, but they’re less. Less prominent or exposed. So dominant, let’s put it that way.

Stacy: Such an interesting result of becoming a poker player. It was not what I was expecting to hear you say, but I also heard you bring in data as you were talking through that. Right. Because when you’re talking through the lens of poker, you’re thinking of probability. You’re considering I have a 95%, but I still have this 5% chance. But then you also reset as you continue with future games so much there that can be brought to life. I want to go back to what you said earlier about poker being an endurance sport. That made me think about the book writing process, because I also think that writing a book is an endurance sport in and of itself. I want to hear about your process.

Stacy: And particularly I’d love to hear coming from I’m not a writer to I’m a science writer to now I’m an author. Talk to me about that journey and what it was like writing your first book. I’d love to hear, especially if you had any roadblocks or challenges that you had to overcome while you were writing this book and revising it.

Alex: So I think what helped me through the writing process is, again, they always say, write what you know because you are going to have roadblocks and you’re going to have days where you’re staring at a blank page or staring at a paragraph. Like me, one day I was staring at a paragraph for 8 hours and just didn’t know how to fix it and. But what will pull you through those days and those times where you just don’t have it in you is an absolute love for the topic that you’re writing about. Like pick something that you know you will not get bored about. You will be still excited about to write. Be curious, stay curious whilst you’re writing about. Especially with science writing, it’s about finding information, finding mad data, characters, storylines, historic events that will help bolster your thesis.

Alex: And for me, every day I was finding new things, right? And it was like, wow, this is amazing. I can’t wait to write about that. What pushed me through the four years of writing, thanks, COVID. Because there was just no, I couldn’t write through COVID. And I had to call my publisher and I said, I’m missing this deadline. I just, I have an eight year old. My husband has locked himself in the dining room. He’s on negotiation deals. I’m single parenting. And she basically said, don’t worry about it. I’ve been waiting for books as old as my children. You will not do your best work if your mind is not in it. Don’t worry about it. Best publisher ever. Profile books. And so that’s why it took so long.

Alex: But it also took so long because I did a lot of research, because what slowed me down was an utter fear, that kind of fear of failing. Because one side, I’m writing a science book, and I needed to make sure that all the data and the science that I put in a book was accurate because that’s the whole point, right? Be right, be truthful, be accurate. And then on the other side, I had the poker community because I’m also writing a sort of poker book and championing both fields, doing both fields justice was really terrifying. So I had lots of readers pre publication, and I had no ego when it came to writing this book. And I think you need to, when you’re writing anything, take out the ego.

Alex: If there’s people that you value their opinion of that are editors or other writers that you cherish and admire their writing of, and they have something that maybe jars or is not aligned with your view or what you’ve written. Think about it, don’t reject it, think about it and, you know, don’t fight it, because it’s. You’re too precious about your writing. I found my writing has greatly improved by seeking advice and listening to people who had comments and taking on the advice, cutting out the darlings and repositioning and restructuring the book. It is the book that it is now I’m really proud of, because, yes, I wrote the books, but I had a lot of help and I sought out the people. You know, I sent chapters to editors that I greatly admire.

Alex: I sent it to poker players, saying, can you make sure I’m not making a fool out of myself? Is this accurate? So it took a long time, but I’m glad I did that because it’s also book one. So, you know, you only have in my head, you have one chance to set the scene. So make sure that the first science book you’re putting out there isn’t littered with false sorts or faulty data or using wrong terminology. I don’t know. You know what I mean? I was really focused on being accurate and also finding stories. You know, I love reading books that have historic events in them. So I would dig deep into newspaper archives online and at the British Library and find the stories and write them up, and they put real colour into the book that could otherwise end up pretty dull. So.

Alex: Yeah, but focus is, again, passion.

Stacy: There’s so much collaboration in what you just shared. And on a little side note, I’m so jealous that you can just go to the British Library, whatever you want. I was just in London a couple of weeks ago and I always try to stop in there when I’m in town because it just makes my heart so happy to be in that space with all those books. So that’s pretty cool that you have access to that.

Alex: The London Library not many people know about. It’s, I want to say, St James’s Square, and it’s beautiful as well. And they have some originals that can actually pick up, you know, Shakespeare books. Original Shakespeare books. If you’re a member, you get access to some of the really pristine, precious books. Yeah, that’s a good one, too. Very expensive membership, though. Rightly so. Super expensive. That sounds amazing.

Stacy: I’m going to definitely add that. Maybe I’ll have to grab one of my London friends to come. That sounds amazing. I want to highlight something that you said in your process that I think is so important for any aspiring author to hear, and that is that you reached out and tapped to the wisdom of people that you trust. And I think it’s also really important to highlight all the work that went into that draft based on that wisdom and feedback.

Stacy: So many times when we’re approaching the writing process, I think especially for aspiring authors, they look at a book like yours, this polished final book that’s out in the world that’s benefited from all this work, all this expertise, your skilled writing, your editors, all of this stuff, and they look at their draft that’s in progress, and it’s like comparing apples and oranges, right? And then a lot of that self doubt starts to come in of like, oh, my book is nowhere near these beautiful books that I’m. That I’m reading, but I hope that anybody listening to this, that aspires to write a book is really hearing all of the work that goes into transforming that from a good draft into a really great book.

Alex: It’s an entire team, right? And I think I personally, I’ve always done that. I, whenever I picked up a project, I looked for people that I could collaborate with and, you know, it wasn’t about my name being on the COVID or on the billboard or anything. If I had an idea that I wanted to see come to fruition, I thought other people that could contribute. In my case, it was. I was. I’m part of a writers group, so find yourself a group of writers that you can bounce off ideas with or sections and critique each other’s work openly. Honestly, this writers group has been amazing. Most of them have published non fiction, science books, editors, and journalists themselves. It’s a hugely valuable group to have. Also emotional support.

Alex: We all talk about having bad days and, you know, not being happy with the progress and thinking, oh, my God, this is never ending. But also understand it’s a process. And just plowing away a day at a time and having little milestones, it’s never going to be perfect. Like, if I look at my book again, I’m sure I’ll find things that I think I might want to change. Maybe, but you have to just pull the plug at some point and just go, the proposal, this is it. This is good enough. The proposal will change anyway. I’m sorry. The book will change as you’re writing it. The proposal is just sort of an idea. Here’s the direction I want to go.

Alex: To give the publishers an idea of what the book is about, what you will be covering, who you will be interviewing, what you will be aiming to leave the reader with as a theses as a takeaway learning. And then you start. And then you start writing, and you realize it might take, and oftentimes it does, the structure changes, the direction changes slightly, but it’s okay. That is why it’s called the writing process. And I think if you sort of think about it, oh, my God, I have to write 80,000 words. I’ve written 500 today. Of course that’s gonna. That is not helpful. Just set yourself realistic goals. Be kind to yourself. This is an incredibly, you know, this is an incredibly stressful process. And self doubt is always there because you know you’re going to be judged, you know you’re going to be critiqued.

Alex: Focus on doing the best you can, and, just do a little every day and then send it out to people and then know when to stop as well, because otherwise you keep writing. I’ve met a author the other day, or writer the other day, she’s been writing a book for 1010. And I said, okay, have you sent it out? Have you had others read it to give you the guidance, to help you get it to a point where it can go out? Because otherwise you can tinker and tinker, and then it never makes.

Stacy: Its way into the world so that it can impact readers. Right. Which is what you have done with your wonderful book. Alex, I loved our conversation today. I find your book so insightful, and I really appreciate your time and energy. I would love for you to share with our listeners what are you most excited about right now and where can they learn more about you and your work?

Alex: Sure. Right now, I’m most excited about dedicating myself to winning that trophy and some of these poker tournaments until this summer. And then I’m starting a new book. But yes, on social media, I’m usually quite active on Twitter and Instagram. I will be doing more events towards the autumn, so there’ll be speaking tour coming up, but yeah, online. And I hope if anybody wants to have help with writing or ideas, I’m the vice chair of the association of British Science Writers. We have loads of resources online, how to become a science writer, how to write a book proposal, how to find an agent. And I’m very happy if any of your listeners want to reach out to help them with directions as well. So feel free.

Stacy: Oh, I love that. That’s such a great resource. And, I mean, I think we have a lot of american listeners, but certainly people all over the world. And one of the things that I have really enjoyed about growing my community in London because I go there every three months or so, is the literary world there is so rich. And I think just because it’s such a condensed city, like, there’s so much kind of happening in a pretty small area. There’s so much to offer in all of the different resources within the kind of, I would say, like, british literary ecosystem. And I love that you have this specific area for science writing. And it is such a.

Stacy: I feel that my foundation in science writing has helped me in everything in my life, even in, like, making medical decisions for my kids, you know, just being able to really thoughtfully approach different decisions and really analyze things. So I love that. Thank you, Alex, for that resource, and thank you for your time and energy and just sharing your story and passion.

Alex: Oh, absolutely. Thank you for making me talk about myself and poker. So anytime. Thank you.

Stacy: Now I need to go play it, play a hand. It’s been only, you know, what, like probably 20 years since I’ve tried to play poker. But one of these days, I’ll have to pick it up again. Thank you, Alex, for joining me. And thank you to you, our listener, our viewer, for joining us today. I hope you got so much out of this interview. And I really recommend Alex’s book. It’s so interesting and really helps you think about how you make decisions in your everyday life, how you think critically. And also, I just found the whole poker, all the things so fascinating, and I know you will, too. We’ll be sure to link to her social media, her website, and her book in today’s show notes. Thank you, of course, to Rita Domingues, who produces this fine podcast.

Stacy: And I will be back with you before you know it.

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