At the age of 45, writer Regina Brett wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer listing 45 lessons that life had taught her thus far. As a breast cancer survivor, many of those lessons were learned the hard way. Five years later she added five more lessons rounding her list up to 50 and turned her popular list into a book called God Never Blinks. I found her list to be entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking. I thought I would go through each of her lessons learned and write about how that lesson has or has not come up in my own life, now that I am over 40 and feel old enough to have finally learned something.
"A writer is someone who writes. If you want to be a writer, write."
~ LESSON #18
(I must first preface my thoughts on the above by saying that I discovered, after 45 "50 Lessons" posts, that the chain letter of this list that I was working off of was quite inaccurate in the order of Ms. Brett's actual list. I went back and corrected all of my previous entries to match the correct Lesson number. Which is why you find me covering Lesson #18 just now. For myself, who values accuracy and proper quotation, this is annoying. For you, it shouldn't make any difference - the lessons and my thoughts are in the end, the point - not their order of appearance.)
This is the last of my "Lesson" posts. I have finally covered all 50 of them! It is more than a bit ironic that for a writer who hasn't written anything here in over three months, this lesson is to never stop writing.
Ah - but you see, I have not stopped writing. My writing has just been happening on different platforms, for a very different purpose. You may recall (or by now you may have completely forgotten; it has been so long) that I took on a new job that allowed me to work entirely from home while still being the primary care giver for little Sammy. This virtual role is generally administrative; office management in nature. But it also requires quite a bit of creative writing.
No, I'm not working on the next great American novel. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I am creating enticing stories, designed to inspire readers into action and connect people in need. Sounds pretty fantastic, right? Hmmm. Well. When you approach it from that perspective, I suppose it does. You see, the creative writing portion of my job occurs during the task of crafting job advertisements.
I work for a boutique recruiting firm for the high-tech industry. Part of my job is to manage the job search process - from drafting agreements, to writing, publishing and promoting ads, to assisting with search efforts, to overseeing bookkeeping for all placed positions. While a large portion of the talent that we deliver comes from our recruiters' direct sourcing efforts or our internal network and referrals, there are still many candidates who come to our virtual door purely in response to the ad they find online and within social media promotion.
It is a challenge to take a boring template job description and make it an edge-of-your-seat actionable job ad, that will filter the appropriate candidates and stand out from the sea of similarities in the want-ad world. Not only do I need to promote our client while disguising their actual identity (because if you know who they are, then you bypass my firm and go direct) but I also need to re-purpose the job description into original content that again, does not lead you direct to the client, but also does not penalize our website's SEO standing, as the duplication of existing online content will most certainly do.
On top of that, I am tasked with giving candidates more preferable detail. I don't just need to tell you about the company, the location, the salary and the requirements you need to have to be considered. I need to also tell you what things you will be expected to do and accomplish in this role. That last part is a rarity in the job ad world. Yet it is something that can weed out underqualified applicants, by giving more clarity on the actual responsibilities involved.
Because we tend to place senior/management/executive level roles, the most sought after talent is already employed. An ad needs to really sell the hiring company (our client), the opportunities a candidate would have, and the achievement path it provides. It needs to convince a highly talented candidate to leave their comfortable job for something else. Therefore, I approach our ads as marketing posts; not brief, elitist bullet-point ads that keep the interesting and helpful details at bay, attracting no one but the desperate.
This writing of job ads is not very exciting. In this format, and for someone (myself) lacking a strong knowledge base in the industry we serve, it is also a bit time consuming. But it is interesting. With each one, I learn about the varied careers out there, what they entail, and how competing companies can value very different qualities for, essentially, the same roles. And whenever a candidate engages with us in response to one of these ads, and goes on to be hired, I feel happy knowing I helped people connect in order to pursue new dreams together.
And then Sammy tugs on my leg and tells me that he tooted. Which in 2-year-old speak means he's got a messy diaper that just cannot be ignored.
A writer writes. In whatever format afforded them. Make the most of your opportunities for writing and approach them all with the same passion you would feel if you were, in fact, writing what you wanted to write most of all. It will make the effort more enjoyable, give you a sense of pride and hone your skills for the day when time belongs solely to you, for whatever writing you choose to do.