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Follow your passion; you might write your way into new career

Moments of self-realization — “epiphanies” — influence writers breaking out in new directions. Many have to sift through multiple skills. Three writers who made an organic change found meaning in signposts along the way.

Orlando, Fla.’s Diana Scimone, founder of Born2Fly, traveled to 40 countries as a journalist covering human and religious rights. One day in 2001 in Mumbai, India, she noticed a building holding 5-year-old girls in cages, at the mercy of sex traffickers. She says the photo she took changed her life; she started her nonprofit, which benefits children worldwide in crisis, from poverty to devastation, in 2003.

“At the end of 2005,” Scimone says, “my board said to narrow my focus. There was almost no information on sex-trafficking.”

When she burst into tears, they told her to follow this passion. In 2006, five years after the photo, she began researching sex-trafficking in Thailand and how she could work to abolish it.

“I kept seeing things that were definitely not me,” she says, “(but) I kept hearing that kids get taken because they don’t know the lies traffickers use when they come up to them.”

She now fundraises for Born2Fly to meet operations and project costs and writes children’s books and curriculum.

Tiffany Owens, founder of Portland, Ore., property caretaking team Modern-Day Nomads LLC, loved writing about travel, food and wine as a journalist but felt glued to her computer, trapped by “excruciating” deadlines. If she took a break, she wondered, would she fall back in love with the process?

She sourced, then interviewed a couple with a nomadic lifestyle for an MSNBC digital magazine, Owens says.

“I looked into it and (my husband and I) decided to give it a try,” she says. “Two weeks later, we had our first job in Texas.”

They’ve been caretakers on properties from Maine to Washington state and now live in a floating house in a historic marina. Forbes recently ranked their website for nomads among the top 100 for careers.

Sometimes an epiphany occurs in a new environment. Ellen Jovin, principal at Syntaxis Inc. a New York corporate training company, was happy with writing but drained from teaching 18-year-olds as an adjunct instructor in postsecondary institutions. She says her husband, Brandt Johnson, also a writer, “wrote a speech for a company president, who then also wanted help with delivery.”

The presentation went over so well that Johnson suggested the couple shift to communication training, oral and written. Though she was resistant at first, Jovin finally acquiesced, inserting in an email a single sentence about training in presentation skills and business writing. A person with a nondescript email address latched onto the training, became the next client and ultimately engaged the couple multistate. Jovin’s epiphany came in discovering joy and excitement in teaching motivated professionals.


If epiphanies spark organic change for writers, you may wonder, “How can I create them for myself?”

Jovin advocates asking yourself, “Are there parts of your personality not being expressed in writing, and if so, what activities would enable you to express a fuller range of your personality?”

Owens says to explore your other loves and skills, including moonlighting in unrelated fields of interest. She predicts that you’ll end up writing on those topics. (All three of these writers have self-published a book about the new field.) In the same vein, Scimone says that you’ll find a passion if you identify “what makes you angry, what sets you off. For writers, that will translate into your work.”

Dr. Mildred L. Culp of WorkWise® welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2014 Passage Media.

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