Today I’m happy to welcome Pamela Samuels Young to my notebook. She is the author of several legal thrillers, including Attorney-Client Privilege which I will be reviewing tomorrow. I love what she has to say about pursuing your passion.
Pursue Your Passion!
By Pamela Samuels Young
People often ask me how I went from attorney to author. Although I majored in journalism in college and spent several years working as a television news writer, I never gave any thought to writing fiction. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and when I finished law school in my early thirties, I developed a passion for reading legal thrillers. Unfortunately, I never saw women or people of color depicted as attorneys in any of the books I read. I would close the novels feeling satisfied with the story, but disappointed about the lack of diversity of the characters. So one day, I decided that I would write a legal thriller with the kind of characters I wanted to see. In the process, I discovered my passion!
At the time, I was an associate at a large corporate law firm in Los Angeles. Despite the demands of my law practice, I somehow managed to get up at four in the morning to squeeze in a couple of hours of writing before work. I wrote in hotels, in airports, in the office late at night—whenever and wherever I could find the time. I never really had a true passion in my life until I discovered mystery writing. I’m currently practicing law as an in-house employment attorney for a large corporation, yet I’ve still managed to publish five novels over a six year period. Nothing short of passion made that possible.
Whether your dream is to write a novel, start your own business, or go back to school, you can make it happen. Here are some tips that will help you begin your journey.
1. Find Time To Plan Your Passion
With the demands of work, family, church and community activities, you may think you don’t have a spare moment to even think about, much less pursue, your dream career. You’re wrong. More than a few best-selling authors found time to write despite family demands and busy careers. Before they were household names, John Grisham and James Patterson wrote in the mornings before heading off to work. Mary Higgins Clark wrote late at night after putting her five children to sleep. You can do it too!
It won’t be easy, but you can find free time where you least expect it. The next time you’re taking a neighborhood jog or walking on the treadmill, use the time to think about possible locations for the business you’ve dreamed of opening or mull over the plot for that book you’ve wanted to write. Instead of listening to your favorite CD during your morning and evening commute, use the time to work on your business plan. Your lunch break and the two to three hours you spend in front of the television can also be put to good use. With your family’s support, you might even find an evening or two to run off to your local library or a nearby Starbucks for some passion-planning time. Even if it’s only an hour a week, use it.
2. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
You may not realize it, but you have a multitude of resources all around you—family, friends, colleagues, church members, and even strangers. Don’t be afraid to request an informational interview. If you want to run a bed ‘n breakfast, call up the owners of a similar establishment in another community, invite them to lunch and tap their brain. People love to talk about themselves and many will be flattered that you want to ask them for advice. The Internet is also a valuable resource. You can enter a few key words on Google and YouTube and find loads of helpful resources. Just remember: research, research, research!
3. Join Professional Organizations
It’s a good idea to surround yourself with others who share your interests and passion. There are hundreds of professional groups whose sole function is to help their members develop their creative talents and realize their business goals. As a writer, I belong to Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. I don’t make the meetings on a regular basis, but when I do, I always learn something or make some contact that helps me along in my writing career. No matter what your passion is, there’s bound to be a networking group you can join.
4. Understand That It Won’t Happen Overnight
Unfortunately, creative and entrepreneurial ventures don’t come with the guarantee of a regular paycheck. I assumed that after releasing my first novel, Oprah would call and the rest would be history. That has yet to happen. Somehow, I’m still balancing both my legal practice and my passion: writing legal thrillers. It can sometimes be quite stressful, but each time I release a new book, I’m re-energized and more committed than ever about reaching my goal of becoming a full-time writer. There will no doubt be disappointments when things don’t happen in accordance with your time schedule. Just remain faithful and focused on your goal. It will happen.
5. Ignore The Naysayers
We all know people who believe you should find a good job, work as hard as you can for 30 years, then retire at 65 and enjoy life. For them, the thought of leaving a secure, well-paying position for the uncertainties of entrepreneurial life is unthinkable. That kind of limited thinking won’t help you realize your dream.
You have to decide what you want to do and go for it. And don’t be surprised if you turn out to be your biggest obstacle. When that happens, just look your self-doubt squarely in the face and command it to go away. The same degree of preparation and persistence that helped you land your current position will also help you smoothly transition into your dream career.
So don’t just dream about pursuing your passion, make it happen!
Pamela Samuels Young is a Los Angeles attorney and the author of five legal thrillers. She is also on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers. In Pamela’s most recent release, Attorney-Client Privilege, a brutal murder, missing documents and an unscrupulous opposing counsel lead a hotshot L.A. lawyer on a quest for justice—and ultimately—revenge. To contact Pamela or to read an excerpt of her books, visit her website at www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com.