I’m having another one of my “I can’t believe we’ve passed through half the year already” moments. When I reflect and look back at what I’ve accomplished so far, I can be a little hard on myself.  And so I realized that I had to take time to appreciate my accomplishments too. It’s been a bittersweet first eight months in 2011.  It all started when I decided to step away from a job that wasn’t fulfilling in pursuit of freelancing as a writer. Well, that was a scary move, but it’s also been the most refreshing steps forward in taking control of my life.

The bitter part: I started off wanting to break out as a health writer. It was scary in the beginning because I pitched and pitched and pitched my tush off — and nada.  That was very scary! Ack!  No writing gigs means no income.  Of course, I began to doubt myself and the choice I made to leave a 9 to 5 job that I found to be an unfulfilling, dead-end career choice.  I wanted more, but my dream was not working out exactly as I had envisioned it.

The sweet part: So, after realizing that writing for magazines alone wasn’t going to cut it I decided to take charge of matters.  After all, when you’re working for yourself you are accountable for your level of success. With that in mind, I quickly patrolled job sites for other freelance opportunities, and I even put the word out to past contacts that I was interested in freelance work. And let me tell you, I was really amazed at the turnaround time for me to begin receiving opportunities for work. I heard back from a company that I’m now helping to produce content for science textbooks as a writer.  One of my contacts has provided me with ongoing opportunities with a publishing company.  An editor that I’ve written a couple of articles for reaches out to me from time to time with articles she’d like me to cover, which is great because I get to still dabble in magazine writing.  And earlier this summer a past client of mine referred me to someone she knew who needed a ghost writer.  I’ve never worked as a ghostwriter before, but so far the feedback from my new client has been making it a really great experience.

So the lessons I’ve learned so far this year have been:

  1. When something isn’t working out, take a moment to breathe and reevaluate the situation.  When magazine writing wasn’t working out as I expected I began to feel discouraged.  But taking a step back, rather than to continue pitching, I was able to reevaluate my progress and take realistic actions to move my freelance writing career forward.
  2. You have to be open to opportunities.  I set my sights on magazine writing because that’s what I wanted to do.  However, by opening myself up to opportunities, I landed a ghost writing job!  Ghost writing wasn’t even on my radar.  But when I got rid of my one-dimensional desire of wanting to breakout as a magazine writer, I opened up new paths for opportunities to come my way.
  3. Be a leader in my life and that means taking charge of my career. I worked in companies for other people for so long that it was extremely weird breaking out as a self-employed woman.  I remembered a scene in the movie The Holiday when Arthur (Eli Wallach) was asking Iris (Kate Winslet) why she was acting as the friend when she should be the leading lady — and if you can be leading lady in your own life and claim your happiness than no one else can.

I’m looking forward to the remainder of the year — the final months in which I am working on my first novel, securing new clients, giving myself a raise, and meeting other positive and ambitious writers. I’m not waiting around for the magical moment when I’m validated in my writing career.  Every moment that I receive positive feedback, return clients, and recommendations is proof that I’m growing as a writer and that my career is on the path toward greater heights.