At eight, I knew I wanted to be a writer. In class, I would write poems, riddles and stories. I loved writing.
With adolescence came a writer’s worst fear…self-doubt. It explains why I ended up working on Wall Street for a decade. When I had my son, I decided to stay home. I started writing again to exercise my flaccid brain. Success was limited. I couldn’t figure out why.
The years that followed my son’s birth were tumultuous. My husband traveled constantly and my relatives couldn’t provide support. My father-in-law became seriously ill. As a result, my husband spent his free time supporting his parents. After three subsequent miscarriages and the deaths of my grandmother, a good friend and my father-in-law, I no longer wanted to write.
In 1998, my husband was offered a job in northern Virginia. I desperately needed a life change. So, we moved from our childhood homes in New Jersey to this uncharted territory.
It was scary and exhilarating. I left my emotional baggage in New Jersey and started with a clean slate. I longed to write again.
I joined my local chamber of commerce in less than six months after our move and created a sales letter and information kit, touting my services as a writer, I began my search for work. Three months later, the chamber was seeking a writer for a coffee-table book they were creating on the county. I felt a surge of adrenaline race through my body. Unknown in the chamber, I gave it a shot anyway. I sent in my information with a cover letter introducing qualifications and myself. A dozen writers applied for the position. I got it and my career took off. That initial assignment helped me to assimilate myself into the community and make a name in the chamber. The book, “Loudoun County: Blending Tradition with Innovation”, launched my career. Now, others sought me out instead of the other way around. I have since worked on national and international newsletters, contributed regularly to a Virginia monthly paper, and served as a writer for a public relations firm Currently, I am the Washington, DC expert for GeoParent and have written for the web site, Bluesuitmom.com. I recently had articles published in Family Fun Magazine and Loudoun Magazine.
Today, I have wonderful clients, providing a steady stream of work. However, my first client, the Chamber, remains my best customer. I recently completed the editorial for their map/atlas and 2002 annual report.
Moving was the catalyst for my writing success. It gave me the courage to reinvent my writing and myself. Moreover, eternally grateful for the chamber opportunities, I actively volunteer on their marketing and communications committee. I regularly contribute to their newsletter, am currently generating press for their valor awards and am developing their style guide. My involvement keeps my name out there and I’ve received many referrals from them. Moving literally kick-started my writing career. When I think back on my success, I’m moved…literally.
Julie Johnson is a freelance writer living in northern Virginia. She is the author of “Loudoun County: Blending Tradition with Innovation” (copyright 2000). Her work has been published in newspapers such as the Asbury Park Press, The Record, The Old Town Crier and The Parent Paper, magazines including Family Fun and Loudoun Magazine and on web sites such as GeoParent and Bluesuitmom.com. She writes articles, newsletters, press releases, annual reports, corporate backgrounders, FAQs, case studies, brochures, direct sales letters, ghost written articles and more. Her clients include businesses, non-profits and schools. She can be reached at email@example.com.