In 2005, I left a solid career in Marketing behind to become a writer. I said goodbye to my awesome job at Martha Stewart Living, and started looking for freelance writing/editing gigs. Not long afterward, I attended a Career Change seminar at Columbia School of Business, compliments of my stepmother, a graduate of the school. She gave me her ticket, and I wore a name tag that said “Class of 1972.” But they didn’t kick me out. Feeling like an interloper, I found the seminar quite enlightening. No surprise there–it’s an Ivy League school, right? The main takeaway for me was the idea that you could use a skill from your old career to help you gain entry into your new field–not necessarily doing what you ultimately wish to do, but as a first step in the process. Light bulb! I was a writer—a copy writer–but a writer nonetheless. I crafted marketing copy daily for the brands I worked for. I was skilled at creating and producing strong promotional ideas, and it was my job to edit all of the content that went in advertorials and special advertising sections. I was emboldened to look for Copy Editor and Copy Writer jobs. I still tried to get an Editorial job with a very savvy Editor–but she didn’t buy it. After much nail-biting time spent online, I finally got a freelance gig– as a Copy Editor at a magazine. Woot.
It was a dark and stormy night. No it wasn’t, it was late in the day on a Friday when I answered a listing for “Sr. Copy Editor”—to begin the following Monday. I replied. I got hired. Clearly, they were desperate and I was hired–for a full-time freelance/Senior Copy Editor position. I was so excited! I was so relieved! I so in need of help! And by help I mean I needed to know what all of those weird edit symbols meant. I knew maybe one or two, but that wasn’t going to do. A quick trip to Barnes and Noble left me studying “The Copy Editor’s Handbook” and “AP Style Handbook” for the entire weekend. I combed through those books like it was my job (because, it was.) When Monday morning came, I was prepared to wow. I was also carrying in my pocket a small piece of paper with all of the edit symbols written in teeny tiny writing. Yes, I had a cheat sheet. So there you have it—I was Senior Copy Editor even though I’d never even been a Copy Editor. And you know what? It didn’t matter at all. I was (and am) good at editing. All those years of writing and proofreading marketing materials had honed my editing skills. But wait–my career metamorphosis was still not complete. My endgame was to be an Editorial Writer, freelancer with a steady gig working for a national magazine. No sweat.
I decided not to rush it. It was a process, right? After several months of circling the Editorial team, I pounced. Almost immediately, I was assigned my very first story, and just like that, I was in. Finally, I was a (sort of) member of an the exclusive club called “Editorial.” So what if it wasn’t The New York Times, I was a paid writer. I had successfully changed my career from the advertising side to the editorial side. Basically, making the leap over to editorial was a huge accomplishment for me. One of the things that has helped me along the way is this blog. I’ve landed many writing assignments from editors who read this blog. There’s no question, this blog is an important part of my career as a writer. But, I need to feed it. I need to write. In the spirit of this, I’m joining the #BlogHer online event–#NaBloPoMo, “National Blog Post Month” where you are supposed to write a blog post everyday. Spelling errors notwithstanding, my daily posts will focus on designing a life via Mindfulness, Intention, and Action . I’m going to post every single day, starting today—so I guess I’ll see you later :)