Why I Hired a Writing Mentor — Part 2: Now What?

Carol Tice

By Susannah Noel

A month ago, I took one step closer to my dream of being a full-time freelance writer: I went down to half-time at my day job as a marketing manager, with the intention of using my newfound time to build my freelance copywriting business.

Two weeks ago, after the initial thrill of having more time to sleep and exercise, I realized I had something else: panic.

The cold, hard truth is that being half-time gives me, well, half the money. And building a business is slow work; so far, I have no new clients. Instead of feeling entrepreneurial and in control, this move to part-time has made me just feel . . . scared.

Uncertainty of Legendary Proportions

There is a well-worn story about a young woman during olden times who vows to see the world and sets out from her comforting village with her trusty mare and some dry biscuits. She realizes, a week or so into her journey, when she’s hungry and scared of marauders, that she’s made a terrible mistake. Only she knows, on the deepest level, that she can’t possibly go home.

Legend or no, that’s exactly how I feel. Although I’m supposed to now have several extra hours a day to build up my writing career, I never really feel them. I just pick up the boys early and take a spin on the treadmill, and there goes my extra time. I’m living off credit cards, and I have no real plan in place.

But I can’t go back. I was burning out so fast I could smell smoke. Working a full-time job an hour away from home while taking care of my two kids was an exercise in exhaustion. I still long for that gilt-edged freelance life — making my own schedule, doing interesting work, and earning solid money, all while keeping up with the boys’ school, karate, and playdates.

Insert Spirituality Here

It’s come to my attention — through a couple of excellent books and the ministrations of a dear friend — that I’m somewhat lacking in the spirituality department. I don’t necessarily mean religion, but the practices and rituals that keep me in touch with my core values and remind me of a higher purpose, whatever I feel it to be.

In fact, I’m not even sure I know what my core values are. And higher purpose? I want to glibly say, “Less work, more money,” but I know that’s a cop-out.

And yet, I do feel the need to be guided by something deeper — something that can give me courage as my horse and I stumble through the vast forest.

Loving my kids to pieces and wanting to give them a healthy home with the most awesome mom ever is a great starting point. But it has to go further than that. I need to explore what else, in addition to my children, I consider most important. Until I do that, I’ll be driven by the understandable but unbalanced need to achieve, achieve, achieve.

One Foot in Front of the Other

Despite what my brain tells me in the middle of the night, I have come a long way. For instance, a year ago, I would never have imagined I’d have a writing mentor or be guest blogging on one of the top 10 blogs of 2010/2011.

If I simply keep taking baby steps, then eventually the trees will thin out and I’ll come out of the dark wood. I’ll have some clients, I’ll be actively networking online and in person, and I’ll be making real money from my freelance writing. (Scheduling my second phone conversation with Carol will also provide a huge boost.)

And as I move toward that goal, instead of getting caught up in the worries of income, clients, and schedules, I need to develop an understanding of my core values, and then make it a habit to renew my commitment to them, regularly. I also must take time every day to recover from the stress of my hectic life. This should be just as much a priority as reading yet another blog or listening to one more podcast about how to improve my Vermont copywriter website.

The dream is still alive. With my horse and my blossoming spirit — as well as a business loan so I can stop living off credit cards — I’ll get there yet.

Where are you on your freelance-writing path? Quit the day job? Freelancing on the side? Leave a comment and tell us your goals.

Susannah Noel is a Vermont SEO copywriter delivering meticulous copy that drives traffic and boosts sales. She’s also a copyeditor and proofreader of fiction and nonfiction books.

To follow Susannah’s freelance-writing journey, subscribe to this blog.

(I’m glad Susannah was able to take it today…I was busy over on WriteToDone, contributing to a post with tips from all the Top 10 Blogs for Writers winners…check it out! 10 Tips for Writing Excellence from Top Writing Bloggers)

21 Comments

  1. Kevin

    I just came across Writing for a Living and was led here. I noticed the posts are old and was wondering how things are going for you now. I’m looking forward to working towards my goal of quitting my job to work as a writer full time.I am inspired by all those who are doing this as well as working towards the same goal. I think it’s a good Idea to find other who share similar goals to hang out with!

  2. Tony

    Thank you for your article. I have been hoping to find someone I can relate to. I have been writing in a personal journal since my teen years with a few years off in between. I am 30 now. I found something that I am insanely passionate about and I am in the beginning stages of starting a blog to write about it. I feel that my message is tremendously unconventional and I am not sure if I will be able to successfully monetize the size. However, I still want to quit my job and pursue my passion which is writing. We have savings and my wife (almost) makes enough to cover all of our expenses (we have two daughters). Life would not be as comfortable as it is now but I still want to take a flying leap of faith! My wife is supportive and is willing to give me two years to build something that will at least cover our expenses. Then she wants to quit her job to pursue her jewelry making business. Taking the leap is kind of terrifying. I’m itching to get out of this 9-5 and get started but common sense is telling me to keep the job until the end of 2011 so we can save more and so I have time to learn more about blogging and how to improve my writing. Thanks for listening.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Tony —

      This blog is here to support you!

      If you think your current blog isn’t readily monetizable, feel free to start a few more. Most of the big bloggers make big money because they have multiple sites.

  3. Michael Trent

    Yes, some of these mentors charge a lot of money. That’s why you have to interview, do some price comparison. Sometimes, it is easier (and cheaper) to build a relationship through a conference or seminar to find a mentor. Many great writers teach at the same conference or workshop each year. Make a connection, you just might find a mentor, someone who will challenge and champion your work.

  4. Wyatt Christman

    Susannah,
    There are many who want to do what you are doing but don’t have the courage. I am sure that your kids see the difference
    and may be influenced now but certainly will be later when they cross some of the same bridges. It is great to see that energy put
    forth to the universe as it will feed more of the same; a dedication to life-long dreams despite obstacles. As Wayne Dwyer says,
    “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” Not that you are going to die anytime soon! But you are now letting that music
    out and it is a beautiful step.

    • Susannah Noel

      Hi Wyatt! I like that mind-set – focusing on what the kids will take away from this in the long term. I have to admit, I never thought of that. It’s not easy to ignore the voices saying “Buy them that new toy! Spend more time with them! Sign them up for every sport, music lesson, and karate class there is!” But there’s more to parenting than making your kids happy NOW.

      Thanks for writing, Wyatt. I really appreciate your insight.

      Susannah

  5. Susanna Perkins

    Hi Susannah, and good luck to you. As a Susanna (no h) who lived in VT for 12 years, I see we have more than writing in common. 🙂

    • Susannah Noel

      Hi Susanna! I spelled my name your way when I was in first grade. I thought I’d switch it from -h to no h year by year, but I quickly realized that was going to make life difficult. I like the no h spelling.

      Have I seen you on Third Tribe? Nice to meet you here, too.

      Thanks for writing,

      Susannah

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