Every Dream Starts with One Decision

By Shawndra Russell

Woman at a crossroadsCareer Research Papers rolled around again for my sophomores and juniors. I was teaching high school English and both loved and dreaded this time of year. I loved it because it was fun seeing some students light up when they learned something interesting about either their profession or an expert in their field of interest. And I love learning about how people spend their days, especially in professions that are new to me, so I enjoyed reading these papers too.

But, I hated this time of year because I felt like a phony. There I was, trying to help my students uncover their deepest desires and lay the groundwork for a career that would fulfill them and not feel like work, yet I wasn’t following my passion. How could I expect them to follow their dreams instead of following the money or what their parents wanted them to do if I wasn’t?

So, I started writing a screenplay. I had a story that had been brewing for a while, but I always had the excuse of being too busy and didn’t think of writing as a legitimate career. There were bills that needed paid, chores that needed done, teams to coach, and lessons plans to create. Writing seemed like an extracurricular that I just couldn’t justify spending time on. Yet, once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I would jump on the computer in the morning, at lunch, and in the evenings letting the words pour out. I didn’t stop to edit or reread, I just WROTE.

I loved it so much that I quit my job that summer and became a writer.

I still have that screenplay saved on my computer and even entered it into a few contests. However, I knew that it would fare better as a novel, and I was more suited to be a novelist (at least, for now). So, for NaNoWriMo in 2011, I sat down and turned that screenplay into my novel, Couple Friends.

Of course, no one paid me to write this book, so I’ve taken on copywriting, writing for newspapers and magazines, starting two blogs, and creating social media content for businesses. It’s been a long, tough year, but it all started with just one little step—deciding to no longer sit by while my students dreamed big. I deserved to dream big, too, just like we all do.

Shawndra Russell lives in Savannah, Georgia and works as a copywriter and social media manager by day and writes women’s fiction and articles by night. She loves craft beer, mud runs, Pearl Jam, her husband/unpaid editor, and their Boston terrier Massy. Connect with her on Twitter @ShawndraRussell or on her website at www.shawndrarussell.com. You can purchase her debut novel, Couple Friends, through Amazon.