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, relationships, and issues in women’s healthcare.


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.


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 was published in Fractured Lit. I am an alum of the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop in Fiction (2023) and have been invited to attend the Bread Loaf Writers Conference (Fiction) in August 2024.

I’m originally from the U.K., grew up in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and 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