My Unexpected Career Path
If someone had told me even two years ago that I would start an online business to teach writing…I would have laughed. Me, a teacher and a businesswoman? Never!
But if there’s anything I’ve learnt in 42 years of my life, it is never say never.
I have always been in love with words for as long as I can remember. My heart and soul was in writing and I was very sure from a young age that I would write when I grew up. So becoming a journalist was the obvious choice. Choosing to be a freelance journalist after the birth of my son was a conscious one.
I’m a features writer and there was a time when I wrote for a plethora of publications across India. I wrote on lifestyle, social issues, people entertainment, health, you name it. Attending press conferences, events, meeting new people and writing – it seemed that I was living my dream. But restless is the heart and soon I began to tire of the same routine. And I learnt a very important lesson, one that I tell all young people stepping into the world of freelance writing:
evolve and reinvent yourself every now and then; or else, stagnate and eventually cease to be.
So I veered into the arena of corporate writing, working with corporate communication team of companies, conceptualising, writing and editing house journals, newsletters, booklets and brochures. It was great fun and the money was even better. Yes, we writers need to make money too!
I worked with some of the best and reputed companies in the country and work flowed in as my name got passed around. At that time I didn’t think I wanted more and I was very happy and content.
But life is truly stranger than fiction. The idea for my own writing company came to me one day as I saw so many professionally qualified women sitting idle at home with the desire to do something more with life, but not knowing what they could do.
Using the power of social media, in January 2012, I launched Writeword, online writing courses for people who want a career in writing. I was overwhelmed by the response. I just had a Facebook page, not even a website. Word started to spread and women began connecting with me, telling me how much they wanted to do something interesting with their time. I had hit upon the right pulse.
The number of successful corporate women in India is huge. Recently a newspaper article quoted that almost all the leading banks in the country has a woman heading them. We’ve had a woman leading our country a few decades back (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) so it isn’t a surprise that Indian women are go-getters, achievers and dynamic. But the numbers on the other side of the scale is far higher. Qualified, educated women with dreams in their hearts, having worked for a few years who gave it all up for domestic reasons – to raise a family, to relocate with their spouse and etc. While this has been their conscious and willing decision, somewhere deep within lies the thirst to do something meaningful with their lives.
Through Writeword, I conduct online writing courses to help teach these women the art of freelance writing. Given nearly two decades of experience as a journalist, I felt that I could help some of them walk a new path.
Many of my students are now successfully writing for various publications! Some of them are also working as writers with companies and ad agencies and few of them assist me in my writing assignments as I continue to engage with various companies as a corporate writer.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
While a lot of work came to me through PR firms who wanted me to write for their clients, I proactively approached companies for work. I always, even to this day, make a list of companies that I’d like to approach for work and connect with them. As a freelance writer, please you have to network with people and approach companies for work.
Today with social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter it’s really a lot easier. You can use technology to your advantage to get what you want!
A good start for women interested in writing is to get their work published in mainstream publication. You gradually work your way into corporate writing. There’s really no easy way to this. If you’re keen to do interesting work as a freelance writer, you need to approach companies on your own and pitch for work.
Being a freelance writer is very liberating and it doesn’t tie you down. I have travelled and moved cities and countries with my husband. As a freelance writer I have worked when my son was a baby. You can work at your own pace and decide how much work you wish to do.
I work with women all over the world who are thirsting to do something meaningful with their lives.
What do you wish to do?