White Paper – Why you Should Listen to Your Calling as a Writer

Writing for starters
Picture Credit: Pascal Willen

Sitting in front of a white paper to write a blog post can be a daunting experience. It happened to me several times this year. I wanted to write but did not have a topic or did not find my way in. Blogging used to be diary style so there were no rules initially. With the digitalization of our lives, the style of blogging changed. Today whatever you want to say you need to say it in a tweet or a video.

I wanted to be a writer as a child

Some members of my family laughed about this. My German teacher R. M., the best teacher in our school also encouraged my creative process. My dad supported and encouraged me to continue to write poetry and short stories. Two of my short stories were published in children’s compilations. I never won a price but hey, my name was out there in print. Dad and I went on a holiday to Italy and both sat on the beach writing or reading for a week. It was heaven.

The same year my father and sister died in a car accident. With them, I buried most of my hopes at becoming a writer. For a long time after this traumatic experience, I was in “survival mode”. I never thought I would write again. At the time, I only read how hard it was to become a journalist or start a career that involved writing.

Like many people with many talents, I studied International Business Studies at the University of Paderborn (Germany). In 1992 this was innovative. The course contained a major in English and French (or Spanish) language and cultural studies. We were only the elitist second year (with around 70 students) and you needed to have a high GPA to get in. While I had no clue where exactly Paderborn was when I enrolled, I learned that I was lucky that I studied at a university with a well-known IT research department and a well-known professor in international human resources. (Sometimes dots do connect Mr. Jobs).

Call it fate, but at the age of 23, I was the guinea pig and went to study with an inspirational professor at the University of Tasmania (Australia). Thank you to Dr. Peter Dowling and Dr. Sarah Knowles. Through Peter, I was able to write a thesis which inspired the idea to build my company Global People Transitions GmbH. I drove back from Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) in a blue 1972 VW-Beetle after having conducted interviews with civil engineers. These civil engineers had been sent abroad without proper training and without the right framework (financial, social security, tax, immigration…there were all sorts of issues). I did not feel ready to start out on my own, so I went into the corporate HR world.

When you are a writer you need to face a white piece of paper every day.
When you are a writer you need to face a white piece of paper every day.

Within my career in corporate HR, I started to write again. First, it was a training manual one of my colleagues introduced me too. I wrote blog posts. I wrote down stories of international assignees and their intercultural experiences. I wrote for HR magazines for free. One New Year’s day I explored and developed a mini-poetry blog on Blogger. Then I practiced writing by writing a short story. Through a friend I met at The Powerhouse Zurich I was introduced to a whole new world, started to join writer’s workshop Zurich and did an online course with Ash Ambirge on copywriting.

Still I was not able to say “I am a writer…” without blushing or without playing it down.

After reading a book by Jeff Goins called “You are a writer: So start acting like one” I learned that I need to actually write every day. I wish I would. At least, I managed to self-publish two books already. These days I am working on “The Global Career Workbook”. I love the work again. I want to improve and feel ready to take in more.

I have a tendency to overwhelm myself with trying to achieve too many projects at once. So in the middle of working on my newest book I ran out of money last year. I had to ask providers to stop working for me until I had more funds…and then I shelved (or “drawered”) the draft. My editor moved into another role and I did not feel the pressure to finish. I got a rather negative feedback, wrote a post about it and got busy with other work. Between January and July 2015 I hardly wrote. I procrastinated, found excuses, got afraid and I guess that is when I started to glare at white paper. I often closed my typewriter. (I don’t work with a typewriter, but I call my MacBook air “Schreibmaschine”).

As a writer, you can easily get distracted and I knew that I made a mistake when my coach Dr. Eva Kinast called me out on it. She said, “I think the writer in you is neglected.” I knew she was right because in my vision of what I wanted to do at 65 it was a writer. I want to write and publish novels, I want to read books like the maniac reader I was as a child. I want to critique books and write for magazines. I would love to write screenplays and I want to use my creative brain in the best manner possible.

But often we do not do what we want…but everything else.

When I listen to other writers I understand that I am not that crazy. That they also have self-doubt, writer’s anxieties and block. I feel encouraged when I hear how long it took them to succeed. And all the time I tell myself: “But you are not an English native speaker. You will never be as good as they are.” (It’s true.)

When I wrote this I realized that I had English as a major in university. Even though I am not a native speaker I write at a fairly high level. There are editors out there who can correct errors. The world is full of collaborators. Why am I still staring at a blank page?

It’s the worry monster again. The fear of failure. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of being called out.

And while I am typing this I know that I have never been as ready as today to tell you.

I am a writer!

There is a fantastic personality test on this blog. Find out if you are meant to be a writer too and if yes, let me know if you need any resources.

 





                


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