For me, 2019 was a year of learning and growing.
It started in January as I enrolled in an online, yearlong program on writing picture books and learning what it takes to be publishable in this area. Not surprisingly, there is no comparison between my journalism writing and picture books, but what was surprising to me was how different PB (aka picture books) are from the middle-grade novels I currently write.
As the year went on, I had the opportunity to participate in online workshops, study picture books from a writer’s perspective, utilize critique opportunities and, yes, write PB manuscripts. I’m not sure if I have the skills—and it most definitely is a skill—to effectively write for this audience, but I intend to keep trying in 2020.
My first stop in PB 2020 journey is Storystorm, which PB author and Storystorm creator Tara Lazar describes as 30-day brainstorming event. The goal is to end the month of January with 30 new story ideas. Does that mean I’ll be writing all 30 stories? Nope, but if January 2019 was anything to go by, I’ll come up with a few ideas that are worth considering and one or two that I just can’t let go of and will end up turning into a story.
This spring brought two more learning opportunities, one on the personal side and one of the professional side. In May, I joined more than 100 other Orthodox Jewish women to be part of Orthodox Union’s Women’s Initiative Lay Leadership Summit.
The two days of workshops and networking, learning and discussions was eye-opening. I could not believe the breadth of talent, scope of knowledge and clear determination of my peers. I don’t know why I was so surprised, perhaps it is because so many of us work on our own, which is why coming together for this summit was so inspiring.
With June came the chance to return to my professional journalism roots. I traveled to St. Louis for the annual American Jewish Press Association conference. There, I had a chance to reconnect with old colleagues and peers, many of whom I hadn’t seen for years. I also had the opportunity to meet new friends, hear from newsmakers and focus on the important place that Jewish journalism has in our communities.
This fall, however, came a very different kind of learning experience; I learned what it takes to be a successful businesswoman. (Yes, freelancing is a business!) Through books, in-person classes, online workshops and classes, including a four-week build your business intensive geared specifically to Orthodox Jewish women, I have gained insight into what works for me and what doesn’t professionally, uncovered what my value is to my potential customers, focused on ways to build my brand and to reach new heights professionally. (Thank you Estie Rand and Abbey Wolin for your insights and encouragement.)
I am excited by how I spent the last 12 months. All that I have learned in 2019 and the skills I gained have given me the energy to move into 2020 with a focus on some new, creative endeavors. I don’t know what the future holds professionally, but I am looking forward to the next chapters of my writing journey.