How to be ‘Deliberately Lucky’

“Knowing your limits is so important. Be able to say ‘hey I’m really good at this thing’ and know your own strengths.”


Determined academic Sara Helen Binney has created herself a glittering portfolio career and she is here to tell me how she did it by taking opportunities and saying yes; the art of being deliberately lucky.

So, ahead of her debut at WWW’s creative career panel, Sara Helen met with me to share how she has created her career turning unplanned events into brilliant opportunities.


This is exactly what happened whilst Sara Helen was volunteering at the Norwich and Norfolk festival. After networking with the professionals Sara Helen was offered an opportunity freelancing. She now works with the Writers Centre, teaching creative writing classes in primary schools. Sara Helen said: “The literary scene in Norwich is little enough and big enough that there are so many opportunities. We are the city of literature after all.”


The perfect example of intentional fortune is Sara Helen’s favourite ‘getting a job’ story.  Scrolling through her phone, Sarah Helen saw someone last-minute advertising for someone to lecture detective crime fiction on a ‘women in academia’ Facebook. Sara Helen immediately messaged, back and forth, and within three days she had the job.


One day with her band (cool lady right?), Sara Helen’s band mate offered a position reading in prisons, a charity project of reading aloud together. For over a year now, Sara Helen has been working with The Reader Organisation discussing poetry with prisoners, which she thinks is fantastic: “It’s a way about talking about literature in the most refreshing way, particularly as a baby academic.”

Founding a publishing company

Drinks, a friend and one idea: that’s all it took to seed the idea of a publishing company. And as chance would have it, Sara Helen and her friend saw an advertisement for the UEA enterprise money application and they seized the opportunity. Whipping up a business plan and hoping for the best – they did it. They won. Kick-started by the enterprise money, Sara Helen’s joint company ‘Seam Editions’ has now just published its second ever book, with many already online.

Say yes more than you say no

As much as Sara Helen claims serendipity of her career adventures, it is her organisation and drive that has got her here. Networking and making connections everywhere has opened doors and she has walked straight through them. Using careers services has also always been her golden nugget of advice.

“I wasn’t always able to do the balancing that this career requires or deal with the uncertainties of starting out, but I’ve learnt a lot and I’m really excited to share how I have done it at Working with Words”.

Sara Helen’s session ‘Building a Creative Career’ at Working with Words takes place in the lecture theatre from 3:00-4:00 at UEA.

Book your tickets here: My Careers Central log in

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