But, a few years ago, when I was recovering from burnout and shortly after the birth of our first child, I was feeling lost professionally. What I really wanted to do was be a writer, but every responsible cell in my body told me that it was a frivolous and unreliable vocation.
When I confided my secret dream to Ned, he responded exactly as you'd expect an entrepreneur to. "You should go for it," he said immediately. "And I think you're going to succeed."
Since then it's been a long, winding road of, seizing every opportunity I could while facing rejection after rejection. I eventually signed with a literary agent, but it took another three years and two manuscripts before I finally got a book deal. That book, the culmination of more than five years of effort, is coming out next month.
Along the way I contemplated giving up countless times. Each time, Ned talked me down from the ledge. His entrepreneurial outlook pushed me to persevere in the unpredictable and finicky publishing industry.
Here are five key lessons I learned from my entrepreneur spouse, which ended up helping me succeed in my own career as a writer:
1. If you're pursuing your passion, the stress and risk are worth it.
My possible professional paths were to pursue writing or to return to my previous career (the same one that had burned me out). The latter was the safer, more predictable option, but it also was one that did not excite me. To do what I truly loved, I had to be willing to try new things that terrified me. The possibility of failure was much greater, but so was the possibility of finding fulfillment in my work.
2. Rejection is a normal part of the process--and a good learning opportunity.
Pitching in publishing isn't that different from pitching to investors; you may approach dozens of people--and get rejected dozens of times--before finally getting a yes. In the beginning, I became extremely discouraged with each rejected blog post, article, or book idea. But seeing how Ned refined and improved his investor pitch over time helped me see that each rejection was a chance for me to do better next time. And I realized that no rejection was personal. It just meant I wasn't a fit with that editor or publisher, and I needed to move on.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
It can be humbling to admit how little you know about your chosen career or industry. But there are plenty of people willing to help--as long as you have the courage to ask. Ned encouraged me to approach friends, acquaintances, or those I knew only by reputation for advice or connections. Sometimes my requests were ignored, but more often I was surprised by the generosity of others. Everything that I've accomplished in my writing career has been because someone else helped me do it.
4. You don't have to win over everyone, just the right individuals.
It was easier to persevere once I understood that, most of the time, I only needed to win over one key person. Like entrepreneurs who simply need that first investor or customer, I needed only one literary agent who believed in my writing and one editor who wanted to publish my book. This mindset focused me on attainable goals, making each step of the process more manageable and less overwhelming.
5. Believe in yourself.
I had previously relied solely on affirmation from others to know my own strengths and abilities. And while others' feedback is useful, it's not the final word. I had to have confidence in my own skills, and to believe that my professional dreams deserved to be pursued, no matter what others said.
If I had listened to my stability-loving self, I wouldn't have had to wrestle with as much rejection and risk. But neither would I have the satisfaction of setting a difficult goal for myself and persevering against the odds to make it come to life. I'm grateful to my entrepreneurial spouse for showing me how it's done.