Holly Burns

Journalist & Writer

Hi, I’m Holly. I’m a freelance journalist and a regular contributor to The New York Times. My work has also appeared in TIME, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Oprah Daily, and The Cut. I mainly cover wellness, health and relationships.


I spent a long time helping tech companies use words and language to make the user experience more enjoyable, including five years at Instagram, where I built and ran the writing team, and helped to establish and maintain the app’s voice. I did similar work as a writer at Facebook and for freelance clients like Instacart.

Prior to that, I was a writer at Travelocity, where one of my most surreal job duties was acting as the official voice of the Roaming Gnome. On the upside, I got to fly all over the world, writing funny tweets in disguise as someone else. On the downside, I had to walk through airports carrying a large ceramic gnome.


With my reporting and essays, I’m especially interested in magnifying stories about women’s health, particularly young women and cancer. I wrote about my own experience with breast cancer for The New York Times here, here, and here; for New York Magazine‘s The Cut here; and on Medium here. You can also hear me talking about it on NPR and on the Forever 35 podcast.

When I’m not reporting, I’m writing fiction. My story “For a Short Time Only” won first prize in the Fractured Lit Flash Fiction OPEN Contest, and I am an alum of the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop in Fiction (2023). I’m originally from the U.K. but now live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I send out my Substack newsletter, At Capacity, more sporadically than I would like.

Holly Burns