Standing Your Ground and Sharing Everything With Your Audience — Laura Vermeire

Laura Vermeire is one of those authors who needs a coffee to write—or at least to start writing. She used to drink too many cups of strong black coffee, but she’s now found a more stable routine: One cup in the morning, one decaf mid-morning and another regular coffee after lunch. 

Laura Vermeire, author of Gekooid door mijn eetstoornis.

After struggling with anorexia for several years, Laura decided to step forward and help others. Unfortunately, mental health is still more of a taboo topic than it should be. And especially anorexia is misunderstood. It’s way more than “not wanting to eat”.

So to break the silence and help people who can’t afford expensive therapy, she wrote a book. “Gekooid door mijn eetstoornis” (Caged by my Eating Disorder) is a book about mental health and Laura’s personal experience. But there’s more: It also includes tips & tricks, exercises, recipes, expert opinions and observations from her boyfriend and parents.

Listen elsewhere

Social media: Beauty and Beast?

Laura social home is Instagram

She’s aware of the trouble that fake images and high expectations cause, and she wants to make a difference.

Many models and influencers don’t share the drawbacks, the break-ups and the off-days. They look happy, but maybe they aren’t.

On her account about mental health, she shares everything. Some days she feels sick and tired. And that’s ok. Sharing those experiences leads to honest feedback, questions and support. (Btw, if you want to see just how open Laura is, read until the end.) 

She hoped this account and book would help just one person deal with their mental health issue. But the reactions have been overwhelming. Thousands of people have reached out to her, and she’s beyond excited she could give them a spark of hope.

Feedback and more products

The bad side of all of these questions about food, rest, movement, self-love and even writing is that she just can’t keep up anymore.

First, she tried to answer every message personally, but it soon became impossible. So now, she started creating online courses via www.laura-evilmonkey.com to address recurring issues more effectively.

The first one is a holiday special to help people with eating disorders during the holiday season.

In the future, she’ll launch a podcast and/or audiobook. And if everything goes well, there will be an ebook soon and maybe even an English edition within a year. 

Finally, everything actually started with a documentary about her experience. As both Laura and her boyfriend are film enthusiasts, they started documenting her experience. After a local channel accepted the trailer, they put together a documentary called Gekooid (Caged).

When her documentary was accepted, a publisher reached out and wanted the book to appear before the documentary launch. So she only had one and a half months to write it…

Gekooid door mijn eetstoornis book cover
Gekooid door mijn eetstoornis Cover

Travelling and early writing experience

Becoming a journalist was one of Laura’s childhood dreams. When she was 22, she booked a one-way ticket to Mexico. She wanted to escape the rat race in Belgium because she didn’t fit in.

Over there, she travelled solo and did some voluntary reporting for Vranckx en de Nomaden, hoping to make some name for herself back home in Belgium. 

Journaling isn’t something she kept pursuing, however. Instead, she continued travelling and lost part of her soul in South America. 

While backpacking, she started journaling daily, and this would be of great help to write her book. Reading those old entries is a great way to bring your memory back to that place and time. Moreover, it makes you appreciate the little things. Laura calls journalling a must if you ever want to write a memoir. 

Writing Gekooid door mijn eetstoornis

As I said, Laura only had 1,5 months to write the book—a pretty tight deadline—but she didn’t have any problems with it. 

Even though a lot of stress isn’t helpful for her mental health, the book deal had more benefits than anything else. For instance, it forced her to stay inside and write. She had little time for physical activities, which she wasn’t allowed to do.

Moreover, she finds writing relaxing, and it even had a therapeutic effect for her.

In total, writing the book was a good experience. Laura got a lot of help from her publisher. She could always count on quick feedback, they set her up with a brilliant book designer, and they took care of most of the marketing. (Laura’s been on dozens of interviews in pretty much every local magazine, radio station or TV channel. The publisher organised about half of those). 

There was one small point of conflict, though. The publisher wanted a black-and-white book. Laura wanted something else, but it would be more expensive…

page 67 from Gekooid door mijn eetstoornis by Laura Vermeire

So Laura said: If it’s not going to be a book in colours and with a lot of images, then there’s not gonna be a book at all.

Laura got her way. The result is stunning.

How to write a book?

According to Laura, if you want to write a book, it needs to be about one very specific theme. First, you lay out a good structure and find titles for the chapters.

Then you start writing and filling in the chapters. There’s going to be a lot of copy-paste work and rewriting. And don’t feel bad about adapting the structure.

Can you smell the inspiration?

Laura gets her inspiration from the senses. Especially odours and sounds are vital for her.

The sound of the waves, for example, relaxes her, but it also brings back lots of memories. Memories from her travels, youth and maybe even the university days when we learned Spanish together. 

Besides the senses, she enjoys activities like walking and dancing for inspiration. Sometimes, she even dances in her underwear to Jason Derulo songs. (Yes, this is how open Laura is about her life).

More books to come?

Hopefully, this is the start of many books to come. Laura works as a copywriter now, but she dreams of becoming a full-time creative writer and documentary maker. 

In one of her following books, she wants to help people reconnect with their bodies. Many people struggle to fit in, have a bad body image, and don’t take time to work on themselves.

She wants to solve this with a similar approach to her first book. She’ll involve experts and add practical advice. And this time, it’s going to be even better because she has more time for in-depth research and exploring.

Reach out to Laura Vermeire

Reading the book is like immersing yourself directly in her life. Many people loved the book even though they didn’t have an eating disorder or knew anyone with mental health issues.

This proves that you can write for a very specific group and still address a broad audience.
Finally, if you want to ask Laura a personal question or just send some love for the book, you can contact her via http://www.laura-evilmonkey.com, Instagram or laura@withlaura.com. She accepts messages in English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

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