If you don’t have much time and want to just get the 5 things, scroll quickly to the bottom. This is a long one.
I was recently asked why I am back posting blogs Monday-Friday. In a sentence it is because my coaching business has essentially dried up and unless a firm, or two asks me to go office to office to help with client development in their firm 5 days or more a month, I will be closing it down soon.
I hate the word retirement. I have always said I would never retire. If I was still practicing construction law, I know business would be good and that would be true.
But, I gave that up because I loved being around young lawyers striving to become the kind of lawyer and person they wanted to be. I could give you many examples, but let me share just one from this week.
On Facebook I saw a post about a Vancouver Business interview of an awesome Vancouver, BC lawyer I had the chance to coach. Life Lessons: Miranda Lam, McCarthy Tetrault.
If you have a moment, read the article. Miranda has some great advice for young lawyers and I am confident you will understand what I am missing.
Here is one great thought
In law, a lot of value is placed on past experience and judgment. But when it comes to leading teams, everyone – even the newest law school grads – has something to contribute, Lam said.
So, what am I doing with my time? I spend my days working on my novel, learning to be a better writer, and I play golf once or twice a week with the golfer in our family.
During my life, whatever I tried, I went “all-in.” I worked, and worked to get better, and never thought:
I just don’t have the talent to be very good at this.
But, I confess some things are getting more challenging now.
When I was young growing up in a Chicago suburb, I shot baskets in the winter outside when there was snow on the ground making it impossible to dribble the basketball. I became my favorite players Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. (I learned to shoot a jump shot watching Jerry West.)
In the summer, I painted a strike zone on my next door neighbor’s chicken house and pitched a rubber baseball. I became my favorite pitchers like Don Drysdale and Billy Pierce. (I can still show you a pretty good imitation of Drysdale on the mound, and his sweeping sidearm fastball.)
As a lawyer I studied and researched trial techniques, construction and design and other subjects that I thought would make myself better. I created cross-examinations based on examples I had seen. I practiced final arguments in front of a mirror and later in front of a Sony Betamax camera.
Nancy and Jill roll their eyes when they see me buy and read every book that had been written on whatever I want to learn. (Any of you who received a box or boxes of my books can attest to that.)
When I started writing fiction, I approached it the same way (and they rolled their eyes again). I took courses at a local college. I took on-line courses. I read and continue to read books on “how to.”
Nineteen Months ago I began writing a novel about a young ambitious women. I was a “panser.” I just winged it. It was natural to me because, I could have easily been a “panser” in my career. See: Museful Monday- A Reformed Panser?- by Stephanie Haefner to get the idea.
A few weeks ago, I finally finished a draft. I finally got to the end. It was the 7th version on Scrivener. For my friends who have read previous versions, the 7th is better. I was excited, but still not satisfied. Maybe some of you would have read the book if I priced it right, or you could get it for free on Amazon Prime. But,…
Recently, I listened to the “Creative Penn” podcast interview of Shawn Coyne. I learned that he created something called the Story Grid. After many years, he wrote a book about it: The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know.
I read Shawn’s book on my Kindle app and highlighted more than I had for any other book. I read every post on his website. I read my highlights. I began reading Silence of the Lambs, the book he uses as an example of how to create a story grid.
Then I went back and began the 8th version of my novel. I better understood my genre. I knew what conventions are required for that genre and what the readers’ expectations will be.
All of a sudden my writing is flowing and I know I am telling a better and more interesting story. I am confident readers who never practiced law will like my character, want her to succeed and feel her pain along the way.
So, what does all of this have to do with you? I think there are some takeaways from my creative writing experience. Here are a few.
- You can be working hard at client development with no success, when all of a sudden something clicks.
- There is always some luck involved in finding what will work for you.
- Learn from other lawyers. See what they have done and figure out what might work for you.
- Be insatiable to become a better lawyer each and every day.
- When it comes to your career don’t be a “pantser.”
Ok, those are my thoughts and an update on what’s going on with me. Back to my writing the 8th and hopefully final first draft of my novel.