How I wrestled my inner writer ... and lost
By Dave Jagodowski
May 13, 2020
Writing comes easy to me. I eventually came to know that. What I didn’t know—for the first 24 years of my life—is that it was a viable, marketable skill. I always figured, “If I can do it, anyone can.” (Apparently I also didn’t know I had self-esteem issues.)
That explains why, in high school, I completely dismissed my beloved English Composition teacher, Mrs. Hamilton, when she predicted I would become a professional writer someday. But I had loftier goals back then, like becoming the lead guitarist in a Rush cover band.
Throughout college, I unknowingly suppressed my inner writer. Sure, he’d make a periodic cameo, venting out the occasional editorial piece for the school paper, but I was studying to be a scientist. Still, he lingered. Once, in graduate school, he rewrote the physics lab manuals because he apparently found them to be “just horrible.” But was that really him, or was it just me trying to help my students learn physics? Uh-oh. Suddenly, we had shared ambitions, and soon, shared success. We went on to receive the department’s annual teaching award for our efforts. We had found the value in each other.
I credit my inner writer with landing me my first real industry job. A mutual friend of ours was the lead developer in a growing software company and needed someone to write user manuals. Despite the physics degrees, we took the job and the rest is history. Eventually, I formed a merger with my inner writer and “we” just became “me.” (The proper wielding of pronouns is important in this industry.)
So, do you have an inner writer? An inner artist? A Mrs. Hamilton? If people consistently praise you for some skill you possess, don’t just dismiss that. It could be a career changer, or at least a career enhancer. Even in the internet age, it’s possible to be sheltered from potential jobs you’d never know existed. For instance, did you know a “human bed warmer” can earn upwards of $200,000 a year? Neither did I until just now.
But don’t bother applying for that job. My application letter is going to be much better written than yours.
Follow your dreams!