Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pursue Your Passion at Any Age
by Pamela Samuels Young

During the years that I moonlighted as a mystery writer while practicing law, people often marveled at my drive. Many of them also had a passion, but had ready excuses for not pursuing it:

My day job is too stressful.

I just don’t have the time.

I’m not as disciplined as you are.

I’ll do it after my kids graduate.

Passion is defined as “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.” That’s how I feel about writing. My love for it is so intense, I couldn’t not write.

I'm blessed in that I’ve never been afraid of hard work or change. After several years as a TV news writer, I chucked that career and went to law school in my thirties. Reading legal thrillers soon became my favorite stress reliever. Disappointed by the lack of diversity in legal fiction (I never saw an African-American lawyer, rarely a female lawyer), I set my sights on filling that void. To my surprise, mystery writing turned out to be my most challenging career choice. But I stuck with it and published my first novel, Every Reasonable Doubt, at the age of 47.

Whether your dream is to write a novel, start your own business or go back to school, you can make it happen—at any age. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Find Time Where You Least Expect It.
I completed my first novel by getting up at four in the morning to write for a couple of hours before work. I used my time stuck in traffic to think up plot twists. Instead of listening to music during your morning commute, listen to an audiobook related to your passion. Cut back on TV and socializing and use that time to pursue your passion. Run off to the library or a nearby Starbucks for some passion-planning time. Even if it’s only an hour a week, use it!

2. Master Your Craft.
To stand out from the crowd, you have to be good at what you do. I meet so many people who are passionate about their business idea, but haven’t put in the hard work to make sure they have a great product or service. Put your ego aside and find people you trust who can give you constructive criticism. Sign up for online courses on websites like Never stop working to improve.

3. Join Professional Organizations.
Surround yourself with others who share your interests and passion. There are hundreds of professional organizations whose sole function is to help their members develop their talents and realize their goals. I belong to Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the Author’s Guild, and Romance Writers of America. Even if you can’t make the meetings, most organizations have excellent newsletters and online resources to help you further your goals.  No matter what your passion is, there’s bound to be an organization or networking group you can join.

4. Ignore the Naysayers.

Many caring people urged me not to give up my day job. It’s too hard to make money as a novelist, they warned me. Thank God, I ignored them. I also ignored the nine publishing houses that rejected me. How sweet it felt years later when a couple of those same publishers came after me. Fortunately, I no longer needed them. Be patient. If you have a passion, stick with it. Things may not happen overnight, but they will happen. I’m a testimony!

Good luck!