“Neat,” said the interviewer in response to my answer. I cringed, feeling slightly sick (thank goodness I had the phone to hide behind). I was failing this interview.
Experience wasn’t the problem. It was an entry level writing position with no experience necessary. And so, I thought yes, I can do this. I can break into the writing industry.
I was out of my comfort zone (I was feeling sick the moment I received the email to set up a time to talk), and very nervous. I didn’t feel like myself. First, because I’d placed the employer on an untouchable high mountain top (this person is an online presence I followed for years prior to this event and still do). And second, because my writing was mostly a dream with little action to pursue that dream.
After the phone call ended my gut feeling told me I wouldn’t get the job; and I didn’t.
I didn’t feel great when I found out I’d lost my chances to work for someone I’d admired and hoped to start writing as a career. But I’m thankful every day that I wasn’t selected. Because it ignited something in me. I didn’t want to give up on my love of words over one interview gone wrong.
It was a moment in my life that needed to happen to help me succeed. A domino effect of actions occurred after this event that moved me on my way to my writing goals.
During the interview I came to understand my why
During the phone interview I was asked: what do I enjoy most about writing or the creative process? No one had ever asked me that question before. I fumbled through embarrassed, telling the interviewer I enjoyed brainstorming and coming up with characters, stories, creating new lives and plots out of nothing but my imagination.
Expressing this was challenging, profound and important for me and something I learned in the moment as I awkwardly tried to express myself. I’m lucky this individual took the time to really listen to me and engage me in this specific question. The best part was the interviewer was actively listening to me with interest. This person cared about what I was saying about writing and my creative process!
This was my wake-up call. To stop dreaming about writing and take action towards my writing goals
I gained perspective and the drive to start taking writing seriously. I’d been daydreaming about writing for far too long. Starting projects but never finishing anything.
I decided to make writing goals to stay accountable, find direction and act.
I asked myself specific questions about writing:
- Why do I want to write? (To be my own boss? Entertain? Help others?)
- What type of writer am I? (Fiction? Non-fiction?)
- What is my writing goal? (Short stories? Novels? Poetry, Articles?)
I wrote out my answers to the questions above and ended with short term goals to get me started and long-term goals to work towards. Which ranged from daily word counts, to timelines to finish projects, and connecting with other writers.
This pushed me into getting words on paper and moving out of my comfort zone
After that interview, I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone more often.
I decided since I was able to take that interview and express my dreams and my creative process, I could push myself further. To the point where it would feel quite normal to be writing and surrounding myself with other creatives. If this dream of mine became more of a habit, and a constant in my life, I wouldn’t feel so out of my element. Allowing me to act on my long-term goals of connecting with other writers.
Moving me forward to find a literary support system
I joined an online writing group through Facebook. Which led to interacting with the literary world more frequently via Twitter and finding more resources to help me write and write more often, which lead to more practicing which lead to better writing.
And I really fought through my fear (more like frozen terror) to join an in person writing group. Which I found through my local library. I learned the importance of the critique, and how to accept and understand the value of another writer’s feedback. And the creative exercises aided in my everyday writing. The support of these liked minded creatives helped improve my writing.
This lead to developing a regular writing routine
My writing schedule isn’t set at a specific time of day. It would be great if I could do that, but it doesn’t always work for me to set time aside in the morning or evening. Although if every day were perfect, I’d prefer to work a couple of hours in the morning before I drive to my full-time job.
Instead I find time when I can in the morning, after work, while the kids are watching tv (no they don’t watch tv all night long) or before bed. And I’m getting it done. Sometimes it’s twenty minutes a day, or an hour, and I do have days of zero writing.
The results of all these actions produced finished works
I didn’t get the job, but I did produce positive changes in my life to move me out of my comfort zone, understand why I want to write in the first place, surround myself with other writers, set goals and decide to write consistently.
And it worked, I got stuff done.
I found I’d finished writing something. A short story. From this sprang forth more finished short stories, poems, creative exercises, content writing, and memoir journal pieces.
But I’m not stopping there. I have long term goals that include continuing to plot and write a novel, blog, along with other side projects.
I learned it’s ok and necessary to try and try and try, because there will be so much experience, relationships and words from that trying. And that’s vital and will lead us closer and closer to what’s to be gained from a life as a writer.