I think I started out life as a creative person. Most children naturally gravitate toward a specific direction from a young age, and my first creative foray was art. Asking my eight-year-old self what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would quickly answer, “Artist.” I took art classes, had loads of sketch books, worked in multiple mediums. The problem was, I wasn’t very good at it. The other problem; aspiring to be an artist doesn’t offer the guarantee of financial stability I’d need if I was ever going to move out of my parents' house and live on my own.
Struggling with disappointment
This presented my first problem in finding my creative outlet: having to admit my first attempt wasn’t a good one. Drawing was my passion, but it wasn’t going to become my career. It took a while to let it go, but high school presented a new opportunity for artistic creativity - digital design.
Joining my yearbook staff, I fell in love with layout and design. Organizing content onto pages, cropping and formatting photos - it was art without having to be good at drawing. By the time I entered my senior year of high school, I was hooked. As the Assistant Editor-in-Chief, my main responsibility was creating the theme of the yearbook, designing the pages that introduced the book and bringing all the sections together. I could sit for hours in front of a computer working on layout.
The underlying creative outlet
I liked design, but back in the late 90’s, it was still hard to figure out how to translate it into a career. However, it had come time to pick a major as I went off to college. Graphic design wasn’t prominent enough to feel like a viable area to study, but I wasn’t going to be an economist or mathematician. Taking a long look back at my interests, I realized I had a creative passion all along that I’d never noticed. From the time I could write, I had kept a journal. I had amassed quite a collection of notebooks, more than sketchbooks. My love of stationary had evolved from the lengthy letters written to pen pals and while away at summer camp. My thank you notes were always longer than just saying, “thanks.” I had a lot to say and I liked the way I said it.
I was a writer.
Nurturing creativity in college
I decided to major in journalism in college. I saw it as an opportunity to hone marketable writing skills. The program at Boston University was intense and taught me a lot about writing and even a little about layout and design. I graduated with a degree having a clear picture of where I wanted my future to go. I was not going to be a journalist.
While I loved college and everything I studied, being in school opened my eyes to the variety of opportunities that rely on strong writing skills. I didn’t have to be a journalist to use what I’d learned. Writing skills were in high demand and short supply, and I could put them to good use in an area that really interested me. I began my professional career as a marketing coordinator at an educational publishing company. I wrote back cover copy, marketing pieces, and catalog copy. I began to work on strategy and learn more about project management, flushing out my capabilities in business as I nurtured my passion for writing.
Re-focusing my creative energy
After 15 years working in areas that combined professional skills with writing, it was time for a change. I missed putting all of my energy into the creative side of work rather than splitting it with management responsibilities. The question came back again, “What’s my creative outlet?” Was it time to go back to design and art? It was a quick, internal discussion.
I was still a writer.
Today, as a freelance content creator I get to write an amazing variety of content. From blog posts, to websites, to white papers and marketing pieces, every day is different for me, yet each one allows me to write and be creative. It has been a fantastic and rewarding career change.