When I was still knee-deep in my corporate career, I dreamed of roaming the globe and writing for a living. I enjoyed the 9-to-5 job that consumed my energy, but it was a position I fell into rather than actively pursued. A decade and a half had passed. Although I’d been promoted multiple times and was the proud occupant of a corner office and generous expense account, I didn’t feel fulfilled. My soul was starving, and I knew I had to change direction or be prepared to live a life I’d regret.
Navigating Out of Your Comfort Zone
As the years ticked by, I became more and more motivated to give up the security and predictability of a monthly paycheck to become a freelancer. Quotes like this helped:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. —Neale Donald Walsch
I taped this quote to the back of my front door, and it became a daily reminder that I would only live the life I had been dreaming about when I got out of my comfort zone.
Change is hard. We get into a rut, and it’s easier to maintain the status quo than rock the boat. We can all come up with an endless list of reasons to keep doing what we’re doing and then bemoan the dilemma of not making any progress towards our dreams.
I knew I wanted a freelance writing career but becoming self-employed felt like a giant leap of faith. So, I opted for a stepping-stone approach. I ran a parallel path of a full-time job and freelance activities while exploring my passions.
It can be challenging to make room for new things in your life. There are only so many hours in the day, and I believed all of mine were filled. But after a couple of weeks of tracking my online activity, I realized there were pockets of time I could reallocate to working towards my dream. (Hint: Pay attention to your social media and search engine tangents).
Finding Your Passion
I joined different freelance writing sites and wrote about any topic. Eventually, I became a writer for hire. Although I was swimming in assignments, I realized I was now filling my free time with more unfulfilling activities. I still wasn’t feeding my soul.
I treated this as a false start rather than a failure. It was a learning opportunity that made me realize I had a passion for research and a love of the written word. These activities—research and writing—fed my soul.
However, it wasn’t until we bought a holiday home in Turkey that I found my niche. Back then, there wasn’t a lot of English-language tourist information available related to Turkey, so I spent hours trawling the internet and connecting with local residents.
Each time we visited Turkey, I accumulated personal recommendations for places to see and visit. It was like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. There was so much local knowledge available, but nobody had the patience or interest to consolidate it—until I came along and started my blog.
My intention was to share my passion for the area with other independent travelers. I wanted to save them time by researching them and to support the local economy by showcasing mom-and-pop businesses with no internet presence. It didn’t feel like work because I was doing something I believed in and felt passionate about.
I began staying up later and getting up earlier to create more blog posts.
Blogging Leads to Books
I didn’t start out wanting to be an author. Still, after I’d amassed enough blog content, the natural progression led me to use it as the foundation of my first destination travel guide. Every step along the publication and distribution path had a steep learning curve.
This was during the early days of self-publishing, and much of the information available to authors was conflicting. But I approached the cycle from first draft to published book, one tiny step at a time, so I didn’t get overwhelmed.
At the time, my day job required a temporary relocation to London to work on a project that involved weekly commutes to Sweden. Each day was stressful, and I was exhausted. Still, I always made time for a bit of rewriting, editing, or self-publishing task to maintain momentum on my book. It was much more rewarding to go to sleep knowing I’d nudged my book a little closer toward publication.
As any author knows, it’s not until you publish your book that the real work begins. At that point, you embark on the endless marketing and promotion cycle to get your book in front of readers. So now I had to master new skills to maintain sales. If I’d thought publishing a book was hard enough, nothing compared to the minefield of selling it.
I used my research skills to explore different options. Some worked while others resulted in no sales. But whether I celebrated success or smarted from failure, both experiences taught me lessons that I could use for future books.
Setting Your Plan into Action
Fast forward a few years. I abandoned my corporate career to become a freelance writer. But the story doesn’t end there.
I’ve written and published 10 books and set up a self-publishing service to help other writers achieve their dreams of becoming authors. I didn’t set out for this destination but being open to opportunities caused my dream to evolve into something bigger and better than I’d imagined.
It’s too easy to settle for less than you feel you deserve. It’s the path of least resistance, after all. However, if you want to lead a life that feeds your soul, you must proactively chase your passion and dreams. To make room for these things in your life, you must shake up your current routine. So let some things go, be flexible, master fear, and be willing to fail.
Starting something new can be overwhelming, so start small. Every step from where I started to where I ended up was achieved in bite-size chunks of activity. Occasionally, I put in just 15 minutes of focused effort.
In the long run, though, even the shortest period devoted to my goal moved the needle. And that’s how I ended up a freelance writer and author. If you don’t believe you can do the same, pin this quotation to your front door to get you moving:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.—Lao Tzu
What type of freelance writing would feed your soul? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend.
About the Author
Jay Artale abandoned her corporate career to become a digital nomad and full-time writer. She’s an avid blogger and a nonfiction author helping travel writers and travel bloggers achieve their self-publishing goals. Join her at Birds of a Feather Press where she shares tips, advice, and inspiration to writers with an independent spirit.
Photo courtesy of msgrafixx.