How I plotted a course to a writing career with adaptation and constant learning

How I plotted a course to a writing career

Danielle is a Content Marketing Manager at Evolved Digital Marketing and writer from Newcastle Upon Tyne. She has been published in several poetry anthologies and her content marketing work regularly appears in national press. Her career has crisscrossed many industries including TV and film, event management, education, retail and hospitality.

The only thing I’ve consistently wanted to do, is write. My career has been extremely varied and meandering. At times, not even a career, but a succession of jobs. But I feel that’s reflective of three things.

  1. Today’s job market
  2. My desire to constantly evolve, learn and grow
  3. The changing landscape of the creative industries

I studied at university for three years, gaining a BA Hons Media Production degree. During my time on the course I learned how to write, shoot and edit film and video. I studied film theory as well as all the practicalities, dipping into photography and animation too.

I was attracted to this field of work because I love storytelling and believe it is the singular most important gift humanity owns. We tell stories every single day of our lives, in a million different ways. It’s how we learn and teach and advance. Without it we’d never have moved out of the caves.

Filmmaking is a craft, but there are many different roles within a film crew. After leaving university, I craved creativity and wanted to continue learning while enhancing my chances of gaining employment in the film and TV industry. So, I went back to college and trained to be a make-up artist.

I found some small opportunities through local theatre and universities and colleges, working backstage as a volunteer. I also had the odd job as a make up artist for fashion shows or photography shoots and as a runner for a few programmes and adverts being shot locally. I come from the north east of England and found the opportunities few and far between. I worked for a couple of seasons on a long running children’s TV programme, Byker Grove, but even that was only for 6 months of each year and then I’d be out of work again. The hours were long, and the pay was low.

It wasn’t a comfortable lifestyle, not knowing where the next pay check was coming from and it came to the point where I had to make a decision: leave my home town for work or stay and change course in my career. I love the north east and I’m close to my family, so I stayed.

Over the next 10 years or so, I had several different roles including event management, admin, customer service, waitressing, bar work, teaching assistant, programme co-ordinator and quality assurance. With each role, I left either because they were short term contracts or because I felt stuck and needed to change course again.

Having so many roles has given me a varied experience that not many other people have and rather than try and explain to potential employers why I left previous roles, as if it was a bad thing, I’ve always been proud that I knew when it was time to move on. I don’t think there’s anything to be gained for both employer or employee by staying long term in a job you’re unfulfilled in.

I’ve always tried to prepare for interviews by reading up on the company and what they do, trying to gauge what their core belief is, and I would always advise, just being yourself. Sometimes you’re not the right fit for a place, and they’re not right for you. So, if you don’t get the job, keep looking. Something better might be just around the corner. Always be polite and courteous. Let your personality shine through and smile. Having been on both sides of an interview, I can say that it’s sometimes just as nerve wracking being the interviewer.

Unless it’s a very intricate role you’re applying for, they won’t expect you to know everything. Nowadays, lots of people have the qualifications and ability to perform a job. So what employers are looking for are life skills – adaptability, creative thinking, the ability to take criticism well, a hunger to keep learning and growing with the company. This is what will set you apart from others.

Don’t aim too low but be practical also. If you need to wait on tables or clean toilets until something better comes along, don’t be afraid or ashamed to do that. If you’re earning an honest living, that’s something to be proud of.

I keep myself up to date with industry news by setting aside a little bit of time each week to research. It might be some articles I’ve come across or a podcast someone has recommended or a book. I’m on the internet at least 8 hours every day, often researching for specific pieces of content I’m writing, so I use Google Keep to store any interesting websites I come across. In my role though, I have to come up with creative content for a range of different clients, so it’s important not to close yourself off to just one industry. I go for walks and look at architecture, I listen to music, I draw, paint, write poetry and stories, go to art galleries, the cinema and theatre. I try to engage with creative outlets as much as possible. I read the news and watch what people are talking about on social media. I’ve volunteered and completed online courses where I can.

After being made redundant from a role in 2011, I enrolled on a post graduate course in online marketing and social media. It was this that led me into roles as a social media manager and web content creator. Essentially I now create and write stories in different formats, which, as I said at the start, is the only thing I’ve ever consistently wanted to do. I may have navigated a very winding road to get to this point, but I truly believe it has helped me. I have a strong work ethic, I’ve survived several redundancies and I’ve worked with so many types of people that I can adapt to different working styles quite well. Of course, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but if it had been, I wouldn’t have learned half as much.

Ultimately, a career or job, is only part of your life. It shouldn’t take over your time with family and friends or occupy your every waking moment. If you manage to land a role that’s truly satisfying, then great. You’ve hit the jackpot. But if not, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you never will. Try and enjoy the good parts and learn from the bad.

People are often quick to criticize because you’re not right for them. They might not value your particular set of skills or talents, but someone else will. So above all, keep believing in yourself.

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