Life is very rarely a straight line of things happening as and when we want or expect them to. More often than not we’re thrown curve balls that take us off in a different direction. A direction we might discover we love, or a direction that makes us realise we want something else altogether. Sometimes life takes us every which way before we end up precisely where we want to be, without even realising it.
At university while studying Sociology and Information Systems, especially while working on my final dissertation, I discovered my love for research. I love starting with an unknown and then reading books, delving into the hidden depths of search engines and talking to people, to find out what I need to know. On the back of my dissertation which was on the topic of technology in the home and how it would affect the family of the future, I was offered a junior position with BT in their research division. I turned it down for personal reasons, so it has become one of the big ‘what if’ moments in my life. Where would my career path have led me? Would I be married to the man I met at 17, as I am now? Would I have a different focus or different priorities to those I have today?
Give the unexpected a chance, you might like it!
Instead of taking the job, I carried on working my part-time job for another 6 months while looking for other research positions closer to home. My dear Grampy actually found me the job I ended up getting in his local paper. I think he may have even driven me to one of my interviews and waited in the car for me, which then ended up going on a lot longer than anticipated! But I digress. I got the job as a research assistant for a market research agency but didn’t stay in the position very long before being moved to a different department in the business. The newly found PR division. I loved it! It was unexpected but the variety of doing something completely different every day was exciting, and I didn’t look back to the research dream for a good many years.
Changing life circumstances
Every now and then it would pop back into my mind. The job that I had walked away from. Other research jobs for more worthwhile causes that I could be getting involved with. But then I would get promoted, the business would change, or in the end, I would leave the company altogether to embark on a new adventure, albeit still in the PR & Marketing realm. After 13 years of this next adventure, which included taking time out to add two new members to our family, I realised I wanted something different again. This time research wasn’t the pull, but rather the cliched work-life balance. I realised my stress levels were too high trying to balance commitments with the children, my husband’s job, and my job. Often taking it out on the children with a more clipped response to their pleas to play than they deserved, I knew it was time for a change. I also wanted something to call my own.
Research before you write
That’s why I started Blog Write in January 2020. I wanted the freedom to manage my own hours, be honest with customers upfront about my capacity at any given time, and not travel the length and breadth of the country, spending hours in a car instead of being there to pick the kids up from school. I knew I loved to write, so wanted to focus on that particular area of the vast PR & Marketing spectrum. But here’s the thing I have just come to realise. So much of the writing I do is research-based. I don’t mean it’s all based on research reports that I’m quoting for statistics (although that’s often a great place to start with a feature article or blog), I mean I probably spend more time crawling the internet for ideas and information, reading trade magazines and blog posts, and talking to people to find out more about their business and their passion, than I do actually putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.
Research is one of the most important parts of the job because whether you’re writing a longer piece for your local paper, or trade magazines, or whether you’re writing regular blog posts for your business, or for yourself, it needs to be informative. It needs to give the reader something useful to help make their lives easier. Not so much an indulgent piece like this, but the ‘how to’ guides and ‘top tips’ pieces should be well researched for accuracy and objectivity.
What curveballs has your life thrown you along the way? Are you where you want to be, or are you still working your way there? I’d love to hear your stories, but in the meantime, I wish you all the very best on this wonderful journey called life!