After years of feeling directionless in my NHS job, I’ve finally found a calling that’s reignited my passion. Here’s how I’m pivoting in mid-life thanks to a City short course.
by Christopher Hunt
For five years I’ve considered changing careers. As a Data Analyst for the NHS, the prospect of changing not only to a new career but from an employee to freelance feels daunting. I have a mortgage and two children under 12 after all. And yet, while it’s easy to make excuses, I’ve realised the only way to confront my fear is to act.
Writing has always been part of my life. I’ve self-published a supernatural novel, written guitar-related blogs and even scripts for a short-lived YouTube comedy series. I also have a fascination with psychology. Searching the internet for jobs related to these interests I discovered a career called copywriting. I could be paid to write!
‘Introduction To Copywriting’ by City University runs over a single weekend, fitting conveniently around my job. The course is taught by author and copywriter Maggie Richards. One of the first things she said is from novelist Ernest Hemingway: “The only writing is rewriting”.
I love this quote because it can be interpreted in different ways. While on the surface it’s telling us to rewrite our work until concise, it also encourages action – to start writing and overcome the ‘fear of the blank page.’ We can refine our work later.
This encouragement to move toward the unknown resonates with my aspirations: the initial steps toward a new career are similar to the first tentative words a writer must put on the page. Many of my doubts and insecurities are really just fears of the unknown.
As author Seth Godin says in ‘The Practice’: “The career of every successful creative is… a pattern of small bridges, each just scary enough to dissuade most people.” Much like the act of writing allows a writer to clarify their thoughts, it’s by taking action that we can find our next step and the step after that, slowly lifting the fog that obscures the path ahead.
City’s online workshop offered many opportunities to take action with practical copywriting exercises, working individually and in small groups. One of my favourite was writing home page copy for an imaginary app.
My team came up with ‘Fitness Friends’, where users meet new people sharing similar fitness goals:
Headline: Meet, Motivate, Get Fit.
Introduction: Walk, Run, Gym. Meet your goals with new local friends.
Call to Action: Find Fitness Friends Now.
Maggie pointed out that the headline and introduction used the same three-part staccato punctuation. I realised the importance of varying the rhythm of the words, blending punch with flow. Creativity should not cloud clarity.
I’m now taking steps to start my copywriting career alongside my NHS job, hoping to eventually become a full-time copywriter. I’ve signed up to a freelancing website and contacted small business owners in my network, offering my writing assistance.
Writers spend so much time living in their heads that it can feel uncomfortable taking physical action. But the pages of my life so far don’t have to dictate where my story goes next. Realising that no first draft is perfect, I now know I can shape my path until I reach the outcome I desired all along.
City offers short writing courses in everything from short story writing to writing for the web and digital media. To find out more about all our writing courses, view our full range here.