Outlier turns the tables on interviewing queen, routine curator, writer and editor Madeleine Dore.
Madeleine Dore doesn’t have a routine.
Given her career is built on breaking down the daily habits of others in minute detail, it might come as a surprise to some.
But for Dore, that lack of clear routine in her own life is the very thing that pulls her to explore the subject in others.
“This whole thing is about understanding and feeling comfortable about the fact that other people don’t [have routines]—or they do, and this is what they look like,” Dore says.
The ‘thing’ to which Dore is referring is Extraordinary Routines, her side project-turned-métier in which she profiles a day in the life of creative Australians. A digital opus of sorts, it’s attracting attention from the likes of the Sydney Morning Herald, Inside Out magazine and almost 18,000 Instagram followers.
Looking back, everything Dore pursued in her formative years has overlapped to make her uniquely qualified in what she playfully dubs ‘routine curation’.
Initially embarking on a communications degree (“I think I wanted to be a journalist”), Dore switched to entrepreneurship after a stint in a Canadian vintage store sparked a desire to open her own.
“I was drawn into this creative space and the people who were transforming or disrupting,” she says of the decision to change degrees.
“But I’d beat myself up for being so choppy-changey—I thought I’d have no career because I couldn’t stick to anything.”
Eventually Dore found herself in Copenhagen, where she finished her degree on exchange and found work as an editor at a creative agency. The role gave her the opportunity to meet and interview creative people—the very disruptors to whom she was originally drawn.
But from those Scandinavian heights, Dore’s Melbourne homecoming a year later served up a harsh reality check.
“I felt really down because I’d had a really great experience [in Copenhagen] and then I had nothing,” Dore says.
“I had no job. And I felt like I couldn’t get a job; like I couldn’t break into the industry.”
“If nothing else, it was just a way to keep having creative conversations with people, which is what I loved so much in Copenhagen,” she says.
“I’d long loved that question of ‘describe a typical day’ in interviews. So I just decided to make that the focus—to really flesh it out and see how that could be the basis of an interview.”
After “a lot of procrastination”, Extraordinary Routines was born in 2014 to little fanfare. In fact, Dore admits she had such low expectations for the project she didn’t even create any social media accounts for it until a few months in.
“I thought, ‘I could put a lot of effort into this, but what’s the point? No one’s going to read it—it’s not as good as that other person’s other thing they’re doing’,” she recalls.
But soon, Extraordinary Routines started to open doors—including one to a full-time editor job at ArtsHub—and demand more and more of her time. She could see the potential for it to grow, and she started to get itchy.
It was seeing American actor/author/artist/director Miranda July speak in March this year that sparked Dore to act.
“Miranda was saying that she has to constantly remind herself that she’s free—she forgets that she’s free and then she remembers, and forgets, and so on,” Dore explains.
“I thought, ‘Wait a second—we can be free in our lives and we can do what we want if we set ourselves up well’. So I quit [my job].”
It’s a risk that’s paid off handsomely. In recent months, Dore’s work has been published in Fairfax’s Sunday Life, as well as Womankind magazine (“a ‘pinch me’ kind of moment”). She writes a monthly column for the Design Files, and Extraordinary Routines itself has been going from strength to strength.
Much like her interest in routines spawns from a lack of her own, Dore‘s personal dalliances with the pain of the human experience compel her to explore the same in her interviews.
“Everything [I pursue] comes from where I’m hurting—fear, failure, rejection, procrastination,” she says.
Dore admits her procrastination is currently “almost chronic”—especially since turning freelance and losing the accountability a traditional workplace provides.
“With an interview, sometimes I don’t get them up [on the website] for a long time. So it just becomes a point of, ‘Oh God, it’s been so long, it has to be done’,” Dore says.
“It’s like a panic—what will that person I’ve interviewed think? It gets to a point of terror.”
But far from disparaging herself, Dore artfully sees it as incubation rather than stagnation.
“I don’t know whether this period of my life is maybe just a longer gestation period, where I’ve done Extraordinary Routines for two years in the way it’s been done, and now I’ve got the opportunity to change it and grow it,” she says.
“So I’m just sitting with that for a while.”
With the flip side of zero accountability comes the freedom to do things the way Dore sees fit.
“I think that’s why I’m now working for myself,” she says.
“There are just those people who want to do it their own way.
“So just do it your way!”
Virtual pep talk
The important thing is to do it and know you’re going to start with little baby steps. There’ll always be a gap between what you’re doing now and what you want to be doing—know that that’s part of the process.
So don’t let that gap riddle you with doubt, and don’t fill that gap with comparing yourself to other people. Just keep ticking along and don’t beat yourself up along the way.