I love this amateur to artist quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Every artist was first an amateur.”

While you may read this and think being an artist means paint brushes, pottery, or music, I like to think of it more broadly.

Try this on for size. Any time you are pursuing a goal, you’re creating something and that means you’re an artist. But think about Emerson’s quote. It also means that you’re first an amateur before you become the artist.

That was the hard part for me when I was rewiring my brain to turn the corporate communicator into a creative writer. And if you’re on the verge of exploring a new passion, pursuing new ways to put your talent to use, or perhaps recalibrating your life’s direction after concluding one chapter and stepping into another, this blog might just resonate with you.

Some may say that writing is writing, but I beg to differ. The approach, writing style, goals, and outcome are very different for corporate communications and creative writing.

Writing for an organization requires a strategic approach to ensure that all communication activities are aligned with the company’s overall objectives. It involves a mix of skills, including writing, storytelling, media savvy, crisis management, and an understanding of digital communication platforms. Everything is designed to enhance an organization’s reputation, build stakeholder trust, and achieve strategic goals.

It’s structured, with little room (if any) for creativity. (However, I have seen at least one organization pull off the fine art of merging humor and facts when educating the public and it’s brilliant.) Communication is clear, and often has a rigid structure designed to present information logically and straightforwardly.

Retirement marked the end of that significant chapter in my life—a chapter filled with the rigor of crafting Congressional testimony, press releases, memos, magazine articles, emails, and meticulously detailed project plans.

But I didn’t want my relationship with the written word to end with it. I realized that the pivot from the corporate communicator to aspiring author and blogger wasn’t just a change in professional identity; it was a transformation that would go straight to the core of my creative spirit. Because unlike the structure inherent in corporate writing, creative writing seeks to entertain, provoke thought, evoke emotions, and express ideas or truths through the art of storytelling and poetic expression.

Now that sounds like fun!

But, it would mean taking a step back and beginning the creative writing journey as an amateur A journey that would unleash my creative spirit, allow me to learn and grow along the way, and most of all, have fun in the process.

I’ve met so many women who, after leaving a career, are struggling to find their purpose in a new chapter. But, what if that new purpose could be based on something you absolutely loved in your career? What if it could be found by just tweaking that part of your professional identity? I believe it can be done. Just as I did with my passion for writing.

The journey from a seasoned professional to a beginner in a new (or modified) area of interest is both humbling and exhilarating. Here are some ways I navigated the transformation from corporate writing to the art of storytelling and creative expression.

  • Adopting the Beginner’s Mindset: My years of experience in corporate communication taught me the value of a clear message, but creative writing invites a different approach—one that values exploration, experimentation, and the emotional depth of storytelling. Embracing a beginner’s mindset allows me to appreciate this new learning curve and the freedom that comes with creative writing.
  • Setting New Goals: My first goal was to just start writing. So, I started a blog, posted inspirational quotes and thoughts on social media, wrote a book, and started Alli’s Adventure Log (a blog written from my Bouvier des Flandres’ perspective).
  • Committing to Regular Practice: Just as in my previous career, consistency is key. I dedicate a specific time each day to write my weekly blogs and social media posts. When I was working on my book, I scheduled time to write at least 5,000 words a week. Alli’s Adventure Log may turn into a novel or children’s book someday, and when it’s time, I’ll set specific goals for that as well. This disciplined practice is essential for honing your craft and finding your unique voice.
  • Seeking Feedback and Mentorship: The value of constructive criticism cannot be overstated. I am in various communities where I can receive feedback, learn from others’ experiences, and foster relationships with mentors and peers who can support and inspire me on this journey. I even came to appreciate my editor bleeding all over every page of my book’s first draft (after I got over the initial shock, of course) because her insights made it so much better.
  • Celebrating Every Step: Transitioning from writing with the precision and purpose of corporate communication to the nuanced and expressive world of creative writing comes with its own set of challenges. Most were just mind games and limiting beliefs such as being too old, thinking no one would like what I wrote (spoiler alert…some won’t and that’s okay), or thinking I’d never be able to break out of the structure and “lighten up.” But, perfection is not the goal—growth and expression are. And that is something to be celebrated.

This transition is more than a career change; it’s a journey of self-discovery and personal fulfillment. The skills and discipline I developed as a corporate executive will serve me well. But the new adventure, the journey into the uncharted waters of creative writing, is where the magic is gonna happen.

Hopefully this will inspire you to become an amateur as you follow new interests and find new purpose during life transitions. Above all, whenever you find yourself thinking that your goal is impossible, remember that all experts were once beginners. Take one step at a time, and when you make a mistake (and you will), just perfect the art of the pivot.

Read more about the art of the pivot here. And, if you’re ready to dive deeper into designing your next chapter, grab my book on Amazon here.