The corporate headhunter finished reading my CV, peered at me over her funky blue-rimmed spectacles and sucked in her breath, just like a comedy car mechanic does right before telling you how much you’re about to be charged for a new flux capacitor.
“Thing is…” she said, “I could definitely help you climb the next few rungs of the career ladder – you could be earning tens of thousands more than you are now. But you’ll have to put the extra hours in. Are you ready for that?”
My heart sank. I’d contacted her because I had recently started to think about planning the second half of my life. After nearly fifteen years as a beleaguered Head of HR (or Personnel, if you prefer) for a beige collection of corporate entities, sleepwalking through the excruciating daily commute to London from Southend to earn…well, enough money to cover that expensive commute, not to mention the buckets of takeaway coffee needed to fuel all the early morning starts, I’d paid my dues and was ready to commit to something grander. Or at least, I thought I was.
Why wasn’t I feeling enthused about the opportunity to earn success and money, wasn’t this what everybody wanted? Why wasn’t I proud of talking about what I did for a living; why did I frequently move work-related conversations away from myself and onto the safety of others?
As I walked away from the headhunter’s plush City office on that rainy November day I made a silent decision: to decide whatever the hell it was I wanted to do, and then get on and do it. There were only two things I knew for certain at that point: what I wanted wasn’t HR management, and I didn’t really care about much more money, as long as I had enough to keep the roof over my head leak-free.
I spent many fruitless hours trying to convince myself that I would be better off just staying where I was. I knew my job, after all – it was safe, and people seemed to think I was good at it. It’s usual for people not to feel very happy at work – or at least that tended to be the record-stuck story I kept hearing from friends and colleagues, particularly after several glasses of wine. So I was just normal, wasn’t I?
Except…the voice inside me, the half-strangled one that kept refusing to die, the one that kept on telling me that this couldn’t be it – only grew louder. So I made a firm decision to embrace the fear of the unknown, and see what would happen.
And so I re-discovered my energy for the one thing I knew deep down I had always wanted to do – write. Just write. Something I’ve done every day, without really thinking about. I’ve kept a personal diary ever since I was little, I’ve helped friends and colleagues write difficult letters and e-mails, and I’ve promoted companies’ messages through simple and engaging words that really reflect who they are. My house is piled up with notebooks full to bursting with ideas for half-written stories and novels.
How would I make money from just writing, though? In my head, being a successful writer was being a ‘proper’ novelist – a JK Rowling, a Stephen King. It wasn’t someone like me, sitting at my desk and dealing with stories of office politics by day, dreaming by night. Often dreaming by day, too.
But I wouldn’t know, would I, what the possibilities were until I bothered to do something about it! I started by making a list of all the things people needed to write, from cradle to grave. Actually, I got some flipchart paper and completely covered the walls in my bedroom with all the things people need to write. CVs, eulogies, letters, statements, web copy, personal and professional profiles – it didn’t take long to fill those walls right up!
The need for writing was clearly there. It was everywhere, in fact. I would just have to be flexible and open to what sort of writing I did. Luckily for me, I love it all – because all of it, even if you’re writing somebody’s CV, is finding out about a person and then telling their story in a way that fits them. Every last one of those stories is unique, and I knew, in that way you just know, that telling them was what I wanted to do.
And so, finally, this twisted path of discovery has led me here… to helping people tell their own stories as well as writing my own. Handing in my notice at work felt genuinely euphoric, and now when I get up every morning I’m not only giving myself permission to be creative, but I’m also using that creativity in a helpful and practical way. It’s something I never really believed would be possible, but I’m living proof that with focus, enthusiasm and support, anyone can make their long-buried creative dreams a reality.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
How not to drown in other people's opinions.Read more
What are the events, loves, or random quirks of character that really make you, you?Read more
Nobody else can tell a story in quite the same way you can.Read more
In these unprecedented times, words count.Read more
Create like nobody's watching... so that when they are, you're ready.Read more
Explaining what’s blatantly obvious to you, could turn out to be advertising gold.Read more
What's your personal soapbox topic?Read more
Don't let spelling and grammar fears stop you from writing.Read more
"...it’s detail that will make you stand out, and most people aren’t mind readers."Read more
"You can’t be on somebody’s side, if you don’t know what they think or how they feel".Read more
...they were learning how to express their true feelings in words, and the results were honest, uplifting, and totally magnetic.Read more
"If you really want to change your career, you have to be determined, and you have to be selfish."Read more
As a freelance writer, taking a break is always a challenge. But I push on through the guilt, and here's why.Read more
Don't write for search engines, write for people.Read more
How do you eat yours?Read more
It's Universal Letter Writing Week - how will you celebrate?Read more
When you give people a piece of yourself, you will naturally engage them.Read more
Simple tips to help you breeze through any interview scenario.Read more
November means #NaNoWriMo - so whatever you're working on, it's time to get it done!Read more
Ironically, it's when you're writing about yourself that you will sound least like you. Hiring a writer to do it for you can bring a whole host of benefits.Read more
Learn how to live happily ever after through the power of storytellingRead more
Writing books is big business - or at least it can be, if you get it right. For starters, this means not rushing the process!Read more
Do you edit your work before you publish it?Read more
Creating a schedule can be a difficult task, especially when you're planning for work you're not being paid for - or that nobody is expecting! Here's how to get started on crafting a time plan that will work for you.Read more
If you know someone who already has everything, give them something truly unique - special words.Read more
Did you know that so-called 'job-hopping' can be an asset to your career search? Whether you prefer stability or excitement in your career, planning your next move is all about packaging your skills and making the right kind of approach.Read more
Going freelance doesn't mean you have to accept every piece of work that comes your way. Being discerning with your time and effort will help you reap the rewards of being your own boss...and you'll get to work with some great people too!Read more
Writing a CV is tough enough when you've got years of experience under your belt, but when you're just leaving education it often feels like you haven't got anything to shout about. Here's how to write a first CV that will stand out from all those bland lists of education dates and shop jobs!Read more
With a new year on the horizon, why not make a resolution to tell your life story? Committing your personal tales to paper can be a rich and rewarding experience for you to write and others to read...for generations to come. Here's how to get started.Read more
Are you often left with the feeling that you don't quite know enough about all the online tools you can use to promote your business? How about website analytics...shouldn't you be checking them every five minutes just like the experts say? Relax - here's how to take advantage of all the advice available online, by defining exactly what YOU want to know.Read more
Is time getting the better of you? With a growing business, several passion projects on the go, books to read and friends I'd quite like to see, I was starting to feel overwhelmed...until I decided to take a closer look at planning my time more effectively. Here's how you can do the same.Read more
BOO! Like a ripe pumpkin Hallowe'en has rolled around yet again, so what better time to extol the benefits of ghostwriting, definitely not just the province of bargain-bin bound celebrities.Read more
An encounter with a corporate headhunter made me question my career - why was I still doing something I didn't love? Here's how I formulated my corporate escape plan and found a career I truly enjoy.Read more
Are your online profiles a bit lacklustre? Don't waste a perfect opportunity to speak directly to the boss or partner of your dreams - use the power of personal copywriting to describe what makes you, you - and get ready to reap the rewards!Read more
Going it alone, releasing yourself from the shackles of a traditional nine-to-five, is exhilarating. It's also incredibly scary! To celebrate my first quarter-year in business, here are some of the most important lessons I've learned from the front line.Read more
Regular blog posts - especially if you run a business - can drastically increase your following, as well as helping you beat the competition by describing how you do things your way. Read on for a few more great reasons why you should join the blogging revolution!Read more
Writing an online dating profile that reveals the real 'you' takes time and courage - but that special person will appreciate the effort. Read on for a few tips to get you started.Read more