Don’t complicate it.
In 2015, I came to the realization that teaching no longer satisfied me.
That wasn’t fair to me. It wasn’t fair to the students I taught.
Before taking the plunge to walk away, I took a sabbatical researching Students with Interrupted Formal Education and wrote a scholarly paper for my school district. What I discovered along the way was that writing was all I wanted to do.
Still, I couldn’t resign because I owed my district the semester I took for the sabbatical. I decided to give them the full year to make sure giving up a 17-year career was the best decision.
As I look back on that time, I realize the decision-making process broke down into 4 simple steps:
1. Make the decision
2. Find your niche
3. Know your worth in that niche
4. Be it
Make the decision
Before the school year ended in 2016, I decided to write full-time. I second-guessed that decision more than once because I didn’t have a step-by-step plan for how I wanted to do it. Like so many times in my life, I made a decision and went with it. I said this to myself then, and I say it to myself now:
This is all you want to do, so do it.
Next came the angst of how do I start over? I was a high school teacher. Where would I even begin as a writer? I had to remind myself that I published two books already. I started. Then came the preparation and pondering.
For me, that gets to be a problem. I think, and I think. But I don’t take the necessary actions. When you’re not 22-years-old and fresh out of college, what are those actions? That’s what I had to figure out.
Find your niche
Everything in this world has a space. Or, as some would say, a lane.
As a new writer, I had to decide: What’s my writing lane? I tried a few different areas, but I found that I write most passionately about personal development, culture, and politics.
I write in several niches because of my diverse knowledge and experiences. Since I am a Reiki practitioner and have been on my healing path, I use that experience to write in the personal development niche. My experience as an educator helps in that area, too. I know how to bring out the best in people.
Because I have a research background and have worked with English Language Learners, I have written articles related to culture, politics, and diversity. Sometimes, I combine all three because I am passionate about them and can write about them in my unique voice.
You have to decide what exceptional experience you bring to the table. Some people are scientifically inclined or technical in some way. Some are great in finance, business, or marketing.
Whatever you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, you can speak with authority and offer a reader value.
Know what you excel at, and write about it.
Often, many people occupy the same space or niche. That can be scary because we wonder how we can compare to others and stand out from them. The question becomes: Is there room for me in that space?
Know your worth in that niche
The answer to that question is yes. Always. And that’s because you are offering you in that space. No one is like you and has the experiences that you have.
Your experiences won’t resonate with everyone, but they will resonate with someone.
That’s the obstacle for a lot of us. We focus on who didn’t like it instead of who did like it. When we inevitably get rejected, we get into the head games of whether we’re good enough and deserve what we want. We are always good enough, and we always deserve what we want.
You have to believe you deserve it when you start this journey.
There’s no set formula to believing you deserve something. Many of us feel like we have to earn it through our actions. We have to learn and accept that we are worthy of what we want because we’re alive.
If you’re in this world, you have a place in it. Period. Why not have it be a place you want to be in, rather than somewhere you’re told you should be?
Of course, you do the work. You work because writing is a craft. Be a master craftsman of your craft of writing. When I was a teacher, I respected and perfected my art. I follow the same principle as a writer.
Prince, one of the greatest musicians of all time, said, “I am music” many times. With that mindset, music just flowed out of him.
When I decided to write full-time, I was at a point where I couldn’t do it part-time. I wasn’t satisfied with my day job teaching anymore. I knew that the only way I would be satisfied was writing every day and not when I could squeeze it in after a full day of teaching.
I went all-in with writing with no Plan B. I knew when it got scary, as new ventures tend to do, I would stay stuck in my Plan B.
I knew, if I wanted to be a writer, I just had to write. Whatever I decided to write about, I had to make it a journey and take the reader with me.
I am a guide for the stories that want to come through me.
When I decided to write my novel, I immersed myself in it. I became the story. The world and characters I created came alive for me.
It took me a year to complete a full draft, then another year in rewrites. Along the way, I learned about my creative process and how I want to write.
I am a storyteller. I believe I deserve to tell the story, and then I become the story. I will do that for the rest of my life, and I won’t look back.
You can do the same thing.