The “Invention” that Changes Your Life

Will Newman

You wouldn't have subscribed to The Writer's Life if you weren't interested in taking your life in a new direction. In reinventing yourself.

I know how daunting this reinvention can feel. I've reinvented myself twice in my adult life.

We travel this journey together.

Over the next week, I'm going to share some ideas about this sometimes difficult process. Today, I'm going to tell you the story of my reinvention. And later this week, I'm going to share the story of another copywriter who reinvented herself after being laid off during the recession.

Traveling the path I expected to follow

I loved science from an early age. My mother — who could ill afford it — gave me a real microscope for my ninth Christmas. She knew that's what I wanted, but I didn't expect it. Not when sometimes we didn't have enough food for the table or good shoes to wear to school.

My passion certainly predated that age. I'd wanted to be “a scientist” from way before then. That passion didn't take solid form until I was 11 years old and read a book by Isaac Asimov: The Wellsprings of Life. It was then that I realized I wanted to do what Asimov did.

Become a biochemist.

I stuck with this dream through four years of college and almost two years of graduate school. I really did love my studies. And I was good at it. Good enough that I ended up working first as a lab helper, then as a research assistant, and finally as a graduate student in a lab that studied chemical evolution.

But something major happened in my final year of graduate school. I met the woman who would become my wife. A budding artist, Linda was very popular with her friends and fellow students.

We went to parties together. We attended political rallies together. She showed me a world of social interaction that I had been missing in my academic studies.

Now at 67 years old, many events from my young life don't come back clearly. But I have a distinct memory of lying next to Linda late one evening unburdening myself.

As much as I loved my studies and science, I wanted people in my life.

I wrestled with the difficulty of reinventing myself for several months. After all, I'd been a “scientist” in one form or another most of my life. The direction I eventually chose was teaching. So I left academia and became a teacher of severely disabled children.

25 years of the best thing I've ever done

When I made the decision to become a teacher, I fully expected that to be the last reinvention I would put myself through. It'd been difficult to make the decision and change my life in such a way that allowed me to do what I ended up loving to do.

So, fully expecting to retire at some ripe old age as a teacher, I worked with young people who brought great joy to my life. And who I hope I helped grow in ways they might not have grown without me.

But after 25 years of lifting kids in and out of wheelchairs, my back ached. I knew I couldn't put the dedication and enthusiasm into my career that my students deserved. Time to reinvent myself once again.

Was this change in direction easier than my previous one? If it had been, why do I write this part with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat?

I loved being a teacher. I loved the students I worked with … The more disabled or the more behaviorally challenging, the more I loved the work.

But my decision to leave teaching brought me to the second best thing I've done in my life.


Copywriting has brought new joy, new excitement, and new enthusiasm into my life. And because I now live in a small, rural community (1,700 people small), I have a new group of young people to work with by volunteering at the elementary school.

Reinvention is never easy

Important change never comes easily. You should never undertake it without a great deal of thought, preparation, and reflection.

And that is what we'll talk about when you come back tomorrow.

Until then, tell us about how you're reinventing yourself right now. Or if you’ve reinvented yourself in the past. Comment below to let us know.

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Published: May 30, 2016

40 Responses to “The “Invention” that Changes Your Life”

  1. Thank you, Will. This was a very touching message.


  2. Boy, do I know what you mean about reinventing yourself! I'm always glad to hear about others who have been able to successfully do so. Thought I was going to be a horticulturist after college - but found myself as a 2nd Lt in the Air Force - a meteorologist! Wanted to have kids, so got out of the AF, followed my pilot husband around the world, had kids, got divorced and reinvented myself as an elementary teacher. Love that, too, but at my small private school, I have too little income. Can't wait to try copywriting!

    Guest (Kathy)

  3. Thank you, Will, for sharing your story with us! Yes, I have similarly reinvented myself from scientist to artist/teacher. Now I am starting a new reinvention with copywriting after 30 years in a profession I have loved, but which I am ready to leave for the next chapter. I'm excited to be on this new path to copywriting, and I love hearing stories that keep me going. I hope I will have the pleasure of meeting you at Bootcamp! Your writing has been very helpful to me!

    Mary Kay Seales

  4. I am interested in writing, since I was 11. I even tried having my writings published with longman who rejected.

    Looking at life tells me everything is the same, what happens now has already happened before the difference lies in the reaction each person has in the experience.
    I have realised writing is a vision which hasn't let go of me even if I haven't paid much attention to it. Since 2008 I have being writing my story and I am looking forward to publish it. Lookifng for funding to start.

    Guest (Wendy Muchindo)

  5. I reinvented myself by "REBIRTH".
    Rebirth has in some parts similarities to reinvent.It is more stronger and it includes a big memory of every single experience you had gained before.
    Rebirth is more powerful than reinvent.
    You have the feeling of a perfect awareness, which I can not explain.After rebirth your brain is ready to learn writing copy.How it functions I do not know.
    I have the feeling I must learn to write,write and write copy.

    Guest (ali rely)

  6. Thank you, Will, for the inspiring peek into your personal reinventions. I'm really excited for this week's articles! I'm in the process of reinventing myself right now, thanks to AWAI. I see this year as a huge turning point in my life. Reading your successes, and those of others, helps to keep me motivated and excited about the direction I'm headed in.

    Here's to embracing change!



  7. I'm 64 years old with 30+ years in the corporate accounting world. By no means do I consider the time wasted, however, I've realized this isn't what I want to spend my remaining years doing. That I why I'm now studying copywriting with AWAI. I have a wealth of business knowledge and I want to reinvent my self in the B2B niche.

    Guest (Tom Martin)

  8. Climbing Out From The Ashes

    After a disastrous 1st marriage I took custody of my 4 children.I later married a woman who went through the same abuse I had, alcoholic and physically abusive spouses.We got custody of her 4 kids and we salvaged and raised them.

    I drove for FEDEX and made good money but it was hard to save any yet.

    Then FEDEX changed their operations and let many drivers go,I was one of them.

    Having taken a mortgage 2 years prior to the job loss,we were devastated.

    To add injury to insult I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013.I went through chemo and had robotic neo-bladder surgery.

    I'm now on disability and fighting foreclosure.

    It's time to reinvent myself but I need to find the finances to get on this "ship".

    Guest (Seamous Maffei)

  9. I reinvented myself from my career as a registered nurse and working for someone else to working for myself and running my own medical transcription business, which I have done for over 30 years now. Going from steady employment with checks written to me by a corporation to self-employment was very scary due to the uncertainty of job security as a self-employed person. In the end, it was the best thing I ever did. I am now signing on for the Writer's Life. I have more confidence in myself from my past experience, but it is still a scary thing to do.

    Guest (Deb)

  10. Hello Will, I'm older than you and have morphed more often. To use your own line: "You should never ...and reflection." One good way to take a lot of the stress and trauma out of transitions in life is to give yourself permission and time to make the change. With that thought in the back of their mind, people are free to consider many unexpected alternatives. I always budget for 12 to 18 months to make the change. As I'm doing now with these courses. When they end I'll be ready. Cheers WillC.

    Will Craig

  11. Hi, Will,

    Thanks for sharing your story of your reinventions. I can relate, since I was forced out of my academic career in 2008, laid off as a result of the recession in 2009, and forced out of a second academic career in 2015. Now I have found AWAI and an avenue to achieve independence as a freelance copywriter writing for the scientific field. I will attend my first Bootcamp this year and have just joined the Circle of Success. I am excited about the future! Lynn Little

    Guest (Lynn Little)

  12. Thanks Will. Loved the article. I finially posted my copywriter website for review after taking the Website in 4 days course. Took me a month to get the website done. I am still working on the Accelerated Copywriting course and building the website was an interuption to my studies in that course. This is all a leap of faith for me so I will have something meaningful and profitable to do in retirement. I appreciate your writing sooo much!

    Guest (Jacqueline Campbell)

  13. A little less than a year ago I made an impulsive move to step away from a secured salary into a job which was commission only.
    Burdened with debt, I took the plunge. Why, because I was miserable in my position and there is no amount of money that is worth being miserable. With joy as my compass I took the risk and stepped out on faith. Although I am still not writing even though my heart is calling me in that direction I have relieved myself from stress, misery and drudgery. In the first 3 weeks a made no sales. Still feeling positive I persevered. By my 3rd month I broke all company records for a month. Change is good and change is necessary. Follow your heart, not your fears.

    Guest (Rob)

  14. You are indeed a wise man Will. This edition of the Writer's Life spoke to my heart as I am also beginning to reinvent myself as a copywriter. The pull to remain status quo is very strong when you are in a career that you love, though. Only dedication and focus are going to allow me to make that transition and so far my "day job" is winning.

    Guest (Joe Reynolds)

  15. I am reinventing myself from a technical writer/editor to a copywriter. I am learning so much from the AWAI programs. I'm looking forward to applying it for my clients.

    Stopping to learn is a discipline. The bills keep coming. But I feel it is important to give the instruction the respect it deserves. That way I can give my clients my best.

    I have one project underway with an existing client. She definitely is benefitting from what I'm learning.

    DL Colbert

  16. I have reinvented myself, although I see them as transformations. First, I gained my French and Latin, but failed to get into teacher's college. So I transformed into a hippy mom, moved to the wilds of BC, and started to raise 3 kids. After 13 years, we moved back to the city, and I was given a chance to teach. I taught English, French, and Socials for over 20 years and loved it. Now I teach adults English in a small university, and I love this. I am a butterfly, awaiting the next stage.

    Guest (Ibeateacher)

  17. It's not so much reinvention, but it's all coming together now. I've always been searching but sidetracked myself by settling on a conventional and "safe" career that never happened. But now it's all or nothing as I become a copywriter. This is it. Factors in my life right now have slowed the process. I only wished I would have discovered AWAI 8 years ago when I had the transitional funds. I'm on a shoestring budget now but I will make it through.

    Guest (Regine)

  18. Hi Will,

    Looking forward to Part 2.

    No matter how well things are going I feel the need for a major change every 8-10 years. I've gone from Personnel Manager to HR Consultant to Pastry Chef/Caterer, and now copywriter. Is this fear of commitment or no fear of change? Either way, helluva ride!

    brenda s

  19. I, too, am in a place of re-imagining my life - both personally and professionally. Geography and health require me to make some significant changes. The interesting thing is I have felt compelled to move to a writing career for years with many encouraging me but i was skeptical. Thanks to my new AWAI family, i realize this will not be the lonely scary step i had always feared. Thank you for your encouragement and timely guidance through this journey.

    CJ Ware

  20. I have left my day job recently and am trying to reinvent myself as a copywriter. I have submitted my first sample copy 15 days back. Not willing to depend wholly on this option as I am not sure how long it would take to establish myself on this line, I Intend to start a retail business with my brother's support(who is already on this business).

    The intervening phase is really a nightmare for me now. I look forward to the ideas to make it a smoother one.

    Guest (Krishnan)

  21. Hello, I have worked in the petroleum industry for the past 10 years as a geologist or a geology related field. I was laid off in October. I have been journaling for the past 8 years. I began typing my journals 5 or 6 years ago. This led me into writing my first book, which I am currently working on. I need to make a livable income while writing so I bought the Six Figure Income writing program and began it in November. Took a break to work o my book, now I am looking for a way to balance both.

    Guest (aggiewriter)

  22. Thank you Wil; I have been in a constant struggle to re-create myself. I have held several jobs and earned three degrees and still have yet to feel like I have found my calling. I thank you for this article. It made me realize that it is possible to feel fearful and /or reluctant to leave what is familiar and venture into new waters with the aim of re-invention. It was very courageous what you did and thank goodness you had a support system to encourage the transition. I wish you continued success and to thank you for your sharing wisdom.


  23. Thank you, Will, for bringing home to me the word that best describes my need due to my latest discovery. Sick for many months beginning last August, then several tests beginning January of this year came the sad news that I have cancer. Shocked by the news because I had been so healthy all my life and health-conscious. In retrospect, I came to the conclusion that I had allowed the stresses of my business take its toll robbing me of my good health.

    While I have a good prognosis expecting my good health to return by year-end, the reality of reinventing myself is now that of copywriting. Thank you!

    Guest (Brenda)

  24. I have reinvented many times. First, as an IT Instructor, the experience was great. Secondly, as a Maintenance Officer, I learned a lot and worked harder but didn't find much fulfillment. Thirdly, as a Sales Agent and Trade Development Rep.,seriously, that was the worst of them all because I resigned twice. Again, I worked as a Chief Operations Officer for a small firm, it was quite expository but the "private" thing set in and I couldn't cope but resign again. Now, I like what I do - develop articles. It's really demanding but I have peace of mind doing it.

    Guest (Ignatius)

  25. Hi Will. Reinvention? I was in the Apurimac Valley, Peru, 19 and trying to teach kids how to speak Spanish from their first language of Quechua, using George of the Jungle comics. A tough kid, I grew to love teaching tough kids. Until I finished up in hospital for a year after a riot. I took time out but couldn't leave it alone and finished up a Principal in an alternate school.
    Until I got jumped by six guys and finished up majorly disabled with PTSD.
    65yrs old. Here we go again...

    Mike Shepherd

  26. Hello Will, Yes I am on the reinvention path to become a copywriter. After being a sheep shearer for 5 years. Then a farmer for 40 years a new challenge is what it is all about. Haven't tried to get a client yet but i will be trying soon. Love your teaching and encouragement for an old farmer Kind Regards Dave E Western Australia

    Guest (Dave E)

  27. I've reinvented myself a couple of times, although I hadn't really thought of it in those terms. I became a drafts-woman at a young age something I never would have thought of. A point in my life came when I had children. I was an at home mom for 10 years, then decided I needed to have a way to support myself and my children should anything happen to my husband. Drafting was no longer an option for several reasons. I decided to go back to school, got my BSN and have worked as a nurse.

    Guest (Cher)

  28. Ah, reinvention; my old friend… How many times have I reinvented myself?

    • age 17: I want to be an astronomer, but after 2 uni offers I realise the physics is beyond me. On to Plan B…
    • age 18: I train as a photographer—which I become, for 15 years
    • age 34: tempted by MLM; not for me
    • age 40: I dabble with inventions
    • age 47: I become a mortgage broker
    • age 47: I discover AWAI & the "Six-figure" course, which I sit on for 10 years
    • age 57: I start "Email Copy Made Easy"

    I think I'm done!

    Duncan Waldron

  29. Thank you for your comments about reinvention. I am not sure if what I do is reinvention. For over 30 years I worked as a trial attorney. Of course, what a trial attorney does is try to convince someone to do something. That is persuasion, isn't that what I do as a copywriter? However, working as an attorney I always am doing a lot of talking. Even when I did writing, I would dictate to my secretary she would type it up. I do not type fast. I talk by using Dragon that is what I am doing right now.

    Guest (Jed Kelson)

  30. Necessity is the mother of invention.
    Necessity drives re-invention.

    Trained in Graphic Arts for 4-year degree.
    Worked as Graphic Artist for 7 years (relocating frequently due to husband's employer)...Told I have spatial aptitude which set me up nicely for work as an aeronautical drafter for 13 years.
    Corporate down-sizing threw me into part-time jobs. Threw that out the window to take care of elderly mother growing increasingly dependent due to Alzheimer's disease.
    After her passing, I discover I have neglected my own health. Freelance writing will give me the flexibility I need to recover. There are nonfiction books to write and children's books to write & illustrate. The rest of my life should be the best of my life!

    Irene Wordsmith

  31. Thank you Will. I've gotten my BS/MA all in Psychology as I wanted to be a Psychologist but marriage & kids cut that short. I went into voc rehab counseling for injured workers in CA and loved the work. Thought I would do that all my life but laws of CA decided against that. Fortunately my MA included ergonomics, I transitioned into that field using skills learned from analyzing jobs and people & medical knowledge as Counselor. Then I became very ill a few years back and did not think I would pull through. I've been reinventing myself past few years. Tried for PhD, found I lacked the interest, wrote published books and still writing. But thinking that I can contribute again to our household. Kids are grown so its my wife and me.

    Guest (Skillseeker)

  32. Hi Will,

    Your story resonated within me as I too have reinvented myself twice. Currently, I own a Marketing Company and a specialty running store. Due to my pending divorce I and much soul searching I am ready to embark on another career.

    Obviously being an entrepreneur I am not afraid of risk. However, I am concerned about "burning ships" and cast my lot in this process of copywriting.

    For several reasons, one is that I need x number of dollars to pursue my hobbies. And of course to eat!

    Thanks for your timely message.


    Guest (joe)

  33. I've spent ten years in radio broadcasting, another twenty years as a high school math teacher, and I'm looking to reinvent myself as a social media manager and blogger. I'm pretty good with Facebook and I'm taking the next several months to match skills in other social media. My passion in blogging (church worship leaders) is not going to make me a pile of money, so the media manager role is going to be my 'exit strategy.' I'm 53. :)

    Guest (Drew)

  34. Hi Will, I first thought of becoming a writer while in my early teens. My mom and classmates knew of this, but no one took me seriously and did not encourage me to develop my skills. I too soon decided this was not something for "ordinary" people, and let it go. Fast forward some 38 years later, I lost my job. Soon afterwards I received the "Can you write a letter like this one?". This time around I have not shared my writing goals with family and friends because I don't want any negativity.

    Nora King

  35. Perpetually recalling BEING's greater-good BECOMING, our due escape from limited confines are not unlike the soul's destined flight with light.

    From artist to architect to physicist to copywriter, the need to summon new MEANING renews my duly evolved PURPOSE. Because as sure as our Universe observably expands, so too the body's need to launch the mind. That once our bubble-wrap's due for poppin', eternal are the constellatory memories that dot the heavens.

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  36. I know at this stage of my life i need to reinvent myself.Writing is my passion. Writing my journal or letters to penpals now it is more or less reduced to writing cover letters. I do I have it in me to actually go farther with writing? Not sure...unemployed so it will take time and money for me to find out...thanks!!

    Guest (Elizabeth)

  37. Thanks Will for this! I reinvented myself from a competitive figure skater to a wannabe sport medicine doctor to a university professor in sport event management. I am now in the process of reinventing myself once more, but this time with my husband - a fellow "reinventee" (from soccer player to clinical psychologist).
    We are moving towards the writing life together, writing a novel, writing about wine on our website, and working together to make copywriting part of our writers' life.


  38. From an 18 year old independence seeker, to an air force medic, to my favorite job - mother of 6. Yet always - I wanted to be a writer. With small writing successes to keep the hope burning, most of my life,has been spent as a single mom making ends meet. I'v loved working in special ed, and now in assisted living but I still want to write and improve my retirement years.I am discovering copywriting. Overwhelmed with all the e-mails and info. Can't sort it out, get organized and started. Help?

    [FROM WILL: Recognize that some of the emails AWAI sends you are both promotional materials from them and excellent examples of email marketing. quite a few of the emails, such as The Writer's Life, contain ideas pertaining to the your achieving the writer's life. Pick and choose which ones you think are going to be the most beneficial to read. As to getting organized: search in the AWAI article archives for "schedule." You should come up with some good ideas there.]

    Guest (Nancy Jean)

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