I wanted to be a writer from the time I was in third grade. My first short story was written on a script tablet I used to learn cursive. By the time I reached high school, I won an award and was featured in our school’s “Whispering Pines” literary magazine. I loved the written word and the power it held over my heart.
It was only natural that I continued to write even after I got married and began raising my six children. Hidden moments were stolen during nap times, and ideas generated while ironing, serving as a chauffeur, cleaning and even bathing. There wasn‘t a time that I wasn’t imagining, phrasing, or constructing in my head.
When I finally started writing things down and actually creating, I had already started selling a few of my wares. I had read so many stories to my children as they grew up that I figured I could write a few of my own. Finally I was receiving validation for my hours of work. Until that time, my efforts were considered a waste of time by my family and friends who were ultra conservative and devoted to saving themselves by their own efforts and working in their church and community.
There is something to be said for volunteering and doing things for free. I was able to hone my skills by crafting stories, plays and scripts for local church and community groups until I developed my talents enough to write for profit.
Great things can come from the giving of your time and talents for a good cause. What can happen?
- Recognition; people become familiar with your face, your name, and your reputation for excellency and dependability.
- Opportunity; if someone is looking for a writer or an artist, they may think of you through past experiences together.
- Connections; exchanging of personal information, business cards, and shared work sticks in people’s minds. They will refer you to someone else when a job is needed.
I met a photographer at my church that saw my creativity firsthand at one of my events. He asked me to meet with him and that opportunity led to my writing of many, many scripts that were used in children’s education. Our divorce series (four films) won the New York Film Festival for “Best Series” that year. The photographer I worked with also introduced me to “The Learning Exchange” where I wrote some fun economic scripts for children on the history of barter and exchange.
Through another connection (that started when I was doing things for free), I was able to move into adult training and education scripts for a large insurance company; writing on subjects like “Structured Settlements” and “Claims Training.” By the time I finished these projects, I was getting referrals from other entities: major airline companies, and many school districts that were promoting education and safety.
By this time I had taken up drawing, illustrating and painting. My goal was to illustrate some of my own work. Getting paid had turned my so-called “waste of time activities” into making a real contribution to the family budget and becoming totally independent for my own sustenance.
It’s too bad that we allow our own self doubts, the criticism of others or money to define us: “You’re not good enough, experienced enough, or talented enough to get paid for your efforts.” In the beginning, most of us must work for free. But don’t give up! Your generous heart will eventually be rewarded.