When I first started thinking about setting up a freelance business, I signed up on a course to learn all the ins and outs of being self employed, finding my own clients and making money.
I had met the course tutor, found her to be very charismatic and clearly successful in her own business, and after attending a weekend taster course, I was ready to invest in myself. Parting with over £1000 for a 12 week distance learning course was a risk I was prepared to take, and I felt able to commit to it. Hadn’t I only recently completed a two-year degree course? Done the homework and submitted a lengthy dissertation?
It should have been easy. I connected with others on the course and made friends in the Facebook support group. I started on Module 1.
The first part was simple: it involved visualising and writing down how I saw my future, where I would love to be if money were no object. This was what the course would enable me to achieve.
But I found I had a huge handicap. Not writer’s block, or tennis elbow. Not the struggle to fall out of bed and make my way to my laptop.
A handicap becomes a penny-drop moment
I discovered I had apostrophobia, semi-colitis and an aversion to repetitivity (yes that is a word – I looked it up: The process of repeating oneself and looking like an idiot to the rest of the world at the same time.)
This meant that I was unable to read a single page of the course without being ambushed by misplaced apostrophes. (A few jokes here to help you remember how they work!) I came across nonsensical sentences without a verb. Poor punctuation (or total lack of) made a mockery of what would otherwise have been a really useful course for me. Indeed, my new-found friends following the course (who don’t suffer like I do), were able to gloss over such petty crimes and learn the basics of setting up a company, watching cashflow and keeping organised and motivated in their new business.
Me? I gave up at Module 4 because I just could not absorb the information in a consistent flow without being stopped in my tracks several times on every page. I even found sections of the text which I suspect were “borrowed” from elsewhere – somehow, the voice just wasn’t the same.
It must have been at this time when it dawned on me that I my calling was not to offer a generalised virtual PA service but to focus on offering support to writers with their writing.
What’s your story?
Everyone has a story to share: the imagination is boundless and our most amazing adventures can be shared with others via the medium of a book.
We all have unique experiences and words of wisdom to offer, so why don’t we all write a book?
Or just a blog! Think about how much you’ve learned in recent years, just by spending a few random moments reading someone else’s blog – it’s an opportunity to see into someone else’s world.
Maybe we feel our knowledge of grammar, punctuation and spelling might let us down; we don’t want to risk embarrassment or humiliation for the sake of too few commas, too many exclamation marks, or being unsure of the difference between it’s and its. Sometimes, quite late in life, people discover they are dyslexic and it was never misbehaviour at school that held them back.
You are the expert in your story, you are the source of your autobiography. Just do it! Throw down your ideas on paper, (or bang it out on the laptop!) be creative and throw grammar to the wind! But then give it to someone who is an expert like me, Janice… aka Grammar Geek, Punctuation Pedant, Spelling Specialist extraordinaire!
Let me hasten to add that since giving up on that particular course, the nit-pickety skills I seem to have been born with have been honed and refined by attending courses with the Society for Editors & Proofreaders, of which I am a member, and I rub shoulders with journalists and other worthy wordy bods whenever I can.
I LOVE spotting typos in the world around me and sharing them on my Facebook page in the hope of inspiring confidence in people to try a little bit harder in their writing. (And sometimes, having a really good laugh!)