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From Rookie Writer to Seasoned Storyteller: Why Writing a Book Made Me Cringe Today

Hey there! My name is Chelsey, and you may know me as the head copywriter and founder here at Crystal Clear Copy. Today, I want to take you on a journey back in time to the very beginning of my writing career—a time that now, as a professional copywriter, makes me both proud and, admittedly, a bit cringy. I'm talking about my first “professional” endeavor as an author, writing a book called Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers.


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A photo of Chelsey holding the book Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers.

Looking back on our early attempts at anything can be a humbling if not outright cringe-worthy, experience. When I first ventured into the world of writing a book, I was living the digital nomad dream, exploring the vibrant cultures of Southeast Asia, the rich histories of Europe, and the mysteries of the mountains in South America. At that time, my identity was split between an enthusiastic English as a Foreign Language teacher and a budding writer eager to etch my thoughts onto the page.

When I think about this book, a whirlwind of emotions envelops me. It was my first foray into the world of professional writing, and writing a book was an entirely new ball game for me. Target audiences, editing intricacies, formatting nuances—these were terms I knew in theory, but applying them was another story.

I remember reaching out to these women, humbled by their willingness to share their tales of adventure, discovery, and, sometimes, sheer audacity. The task was daunting; most of us were novices in the realm of writing a book. Our backgrounds were as varied as our reasons for traveling, yet we found common ground in our shared desire to encapsulate our experiences in words. Writing a book became our collective mission, a bridge connecting our disparate paths through the written word.

Yet, when I revisit this book today, I can't help but notice the imperfections; I’ll be honest, I find it downright hard to read. The editing and formatting—aspects that I now understand are crucial in crafting a compelling narrative—were areas where my inexperience shone through. This reflection isn't about discrediting the work but acknowledging the growth and learning that have shaped me into the writer I am today.

In the content that follows, I'll take you through this evolution—from the humble beginnings of Inspired to the creation of my travel safety blog, The Ninja Gypsy, to my current role as a professional copywriter. It's a story of growth, learning, and, most importantly, an unending passion for storytelling.

Join me as I unravel the layers of my writing journey, sharing the highs, the lows, and the invaluable lessons learned along the way.

The First Leap into Professional Writing

From Classroom to the World: My Journey Begins

My story as a writer began in an unexpected place: the vibrant classrooms of Changwon, South Korea. Fresh out of university in 2017, armed with a degree and a burning desire to explore the world, I embarked on a journey as an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher. This step was fueled by my six-week backpacking adventure across Europe, a trip that left me yearning for more global experiences.

I got my teaching certification and found a job in less than three months. While my mother certainly wasn’t happy about me jetting off across the planet, she supported my decision!

Embracing the Role of a Teacher

In Changwon, I found myself teaching at a hagawon (a private English academy) to a lively bunch of kindergarten, first, and second graders. This experience was more than just a job; it was a cultural immersion, an opportunity to connect with young minds, and a challenge to adapt my teaching to an entirely new environment.

Each day was an adventure filled with the enthusiasm and curiosity of my young students. Plus, I learned more about the English language than I ever did in school. Each day, I would arrive in my classroom to review my teaching material of the day - at least once a week, I was looking up what something meant. While I always knew how to apply what I was teaching, I didn’t always know what it was called or why it was there! It was utterly fascinating and reignited my love of my language.

The Transition: From Teaching to Traveling and Teaching Online

After a fulfilling year, the urge to explore further grew stronger. I left South Korea not just with memories but with a newfound direction. I transitioned into a unique role as an International Pet Sitter (that’s a story for another day), a choice that allowed me to travel the world while continuing to teach English online - this time to elementary students in China and adult learners globally. This phase of my life was a blend of wanderlust, remote work, and the joy of connecting with students from different corners of the world.

The Birth of a Writer in King's Langley

During my stint in England, in the quaint town of King's Langley, the seeds of my writing journey were sown. While my days were filled with teaching for about five hours, I had ample free time, especially during the evenings. With limited activities to engage in, I turned to writing.

I started penning down essays about my travels, reflections that were personal and filled with the essence of my adventures. This writing was not just a pastime; it became a medium to relive and share my experiences.

These nightly writing sessions soon evolved into a more significant project. I decided to compile my travel essays into a book. The process took about six months - a period of compiling, revising, and reliving my travels through words while working with the other authors I featured with their stories. The initial release was through a print run with a printing company from my home state in the USA, a step that felt both exhilarating and daunting. Eventually, I also moved to publish it on Amazon, making my stories accessible to a wider audience.

The Unexpected Success of Writing a Book

To my surprise and delight, the book resonated with many. I sold several hundred copies, primarily to friends, family, and community members. The local support was overwhelming - my book even found a spot in my hometown's local grocery store and bookstore. This modest success was heartwarming and encouraging, a sign that my stories had a place in the hearts of readers.

Reflections on This Chapter

Looking back, this phase of my life was a blend of teaching, traveling, and the beginnings of my writing career. It was a time of exploration, not just of the world but of my abilities and interests. Little did I know that this was just the start of a much longer and more fulfilling journey in writing. As I transitioned from the classroom to the wider world, my stories took on a life of their own, marking the beginning of my path as a writer.

The Essence of Inspired: Capturing a Tapestry of Diverse Experiences

Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers was more than just a collection of travel narratives; it was a celebration of diversity, courage, and the spirit of adventure. This book encapsulates the essence of what it means to be a solo female traveler, through the eyes of nine extraordinary women from varied backgrounds. Each story was a unique thread, woven into a rich tapestry showcasing the breadth and depth of solo travel experiences.

A Global Journey Through Words

The book took readers on a global journey, traversing over a hundred countries across every continent. From navigating the dense jungles of Asia to braving the icy landscapes of the Arctic, the stories were a testament to the resilience and curiosity of women travelers. They shared not just their triumphs but also their challenges, offering a raw and honest perspective on what it means to explore the world alone.

Inspiring a New Generation of Travelers

Inspired's goal was to encourage and empower women. It aimed to break down the barriers of fear and apprehension that often hold women back from solo travel. By sharing these powerful narratives, I sought to inspire other women to take that leap of faith, embrace the unknown, and experience the world on their own terms. This was not just a book about travel; it was a call to adventure, self-discovery, and living life without limits.

The Genesis of The Ninja Gypsy: From Author to Blogger: A Dual Creative Journey

As I delved into the world of authorship with Inspired, another facet of my creative expression began to take shape simultaneously. I channeled my curiosities and passions into a more personal platform - my blog, The Ninja Gypsy. This venture was not just a byproduct of my travels and experiences; it was a deliberate effort to create a space that resonated with my evolving interests and insights.

The Ninja Gypsy: A Melting Pot of Interests

The Ninja Gypsy was more than a travel blog; it reflected my multifaceted personality. It combined my love for martial arts, a keen focus on travel safety, and an array of personal anecdotes from my journeys around the globe. The blog served as a creative outlet, allowing me to delve into topics close to my heart and offer practical advice and personal reflections.

Learning the Ropes of Blogging

While The Ninja Gypsy never became a commercial success story, it was instrumental in my growth as a writer and digital content creator. I immersed myself in the nuances of blog publishing, from the intricacies of SEO to the art of engaging readers. It was a hands-on learning experience that taught me the importance of research, the skill of writing compelling content, and the finesse required in editing.

The Business Side: A Necessary Challenge

However, as much as I relished the creative aspects of blogging, I realized that the business side wasn't where my heart lay. Navigating the world of ad revenues and product affiliates was intriguing but not my forte. My passion was rooted in storytelling, exploring topics, and connecting with readers.

A Stepping Stone to Greater Discoveries

The Ninja Gypsy became more than a blog; it was a stepping stone. It allowed me to hone my skills in a real-world setting, to understand what I loved about writing, and equally, what I did not. This period of exploration and self-discovery was crucial in shaping my path forward. It was here, amidst the stories of martial arts and travel adventures, that I found my true calling - a love for writing that transcended the confines of a blog and steered me toward a more fulfilling writing journey.

The Transition to Professional Copywriting: A New Direction in Los Cocos, Argentina

In 2019, while embracing my life as an international pet sitter, I found myself in Los Cocos, a serene town nestled in the mountains of central Argentina. This tranquil setting, however, posed an unexpected challenge: the internet bandwidth was insufficient for my online teaching platforms. Faced with this obstacle, I stumbled upon Upwork, a platform that introduced me to the world of copywriting. This turn of events was about to redefine my professional trajectory.

The First Steps in Copywriting

Initially, I ventured into copywriting out of necessity, but it quickly became a passion. My first few assignments on Upwork were eye-opening. I found joy in crafting compelling copy, and the positive feedback from clients was immensely gratifying. 

Whether I simply got lucky or my plucky perseverance landed me gigs, job after job, my confidence grew, and so did my portfolio. It became increasingly clear that this was not just a stop-gap solution but a career path I was skilled in and passionate about.

Crystal Clear Copy: A Venture Born in Solitude

Fast forward to 2020, when the world was grappling with COVID-19, I found myself in Washington State, a few hours from my hometown, on a long-term pet-sitting job. As the pandemic unfolded, I, like many others, found myself with an abundance of time. It was in this period of stillness and reflection that Crystal Clear Copy was born. I dove into the intricacies of setting up a legitimate business – handling legalities, crafting a marketing strategy, and establishing an official presence.

My journey from teacher to traveler, from blogger to author, culminated in my evolution as a professional copywriter. The skills I had honed over the years—researching, writing, editing—were now being applied in a new, exciting context. Copywriting wasn't just about stringing words together; it was about understanding the audience, crafting resonating messages, and driving engagement.

The Fulfillment of Finding My Calling

As I established Crystal Clear Copy, I realized that this was more than just a career; it was a fulfillment of a journey that started years ago in a classroom in South Korea. Each step, each role I had embraced contributed to this moment. 

I had found a profession that not only capitalized on my strengths but also aligned with my passion for writing and storytelling. Looking back, the path might have seemed winding, but each turn was a vital step toward discovering my true calling as a writer.

Looking Back with a Critical Eye

As I sit amidst the success of Crystal Clear Copy, I often find myself looking back at my earlier works, especially my first book, Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers. With years of experience now under my belt, I see the pages of my first book through a different lens - one of a seasoned writer and a professional copywriter.

The Painful Beauty of Growth

There's a peculiar mix of pride and cringe when I revisit Inspired. On one hand, the content, the stories of resilience and adventure, still resonate with me deeply. They are a testament to my growth, not just as a writer but as a person. On the other hand, the technical aspects of the book - the editing, the formatting, the nuances of storytelling - are downright painful for me to read. Today, I see numerous areas for improvement, which, back then, I was blissfully unaware of and which many non-professionals barely notice. 

This retrospection is not about dwelling on imperfections but about embracing them. The flaws in Inspired serve as a powerful reminder of how far I've come. They represent a steep but invaluable learning curve. Each misplaced comma, awkwardly phrased sentence, and layout mishap were all part of a journey that honed my skills and sharpened my understanding of writing.

A Nostalgic Yet Enlightening Journey

At the end of the day, Inspired, with all its flaws and achievements, is a crucial chapter in my story. It represents the starting point of a path that has led me to where I am today. As I continue to grow and evolve in my writing career, I will always look back at this book as a milestone - a reminder of where I started and how much I've learned along the way.

Now, you may be wondering, is Inspired still on Amazon. It is…while I rarely tell people about it. Due to its flaws, I certainly don’t use it in my portfolio or reference it to my clients, but I do leave it available to those out there who want to learn more about traveling as a solo female. So, will you ever see it on my website; heck no! BUT…if you are super curious, you can check it out by clicking HERE

Embracing the Journey of Growth and Start Writing (Even If It Sucks!)

Reflecting on my journey from a first-time author to a seasoned copywriter, I realize the importance of each step. From my initial naive forays in Inspired to the refined expertise of Crystal Clear Copy, every experience has been a valuable lesson in growth and learning. Though far from perfect, these early works were crucial stepping stones, shaping me into the writer I am today.

To those hesitant to start writing because of self-doubt or fear of imperfection, I say: take the leap. Writing is a journey, not just of creative expression but of personal discovery and development. 

Your first draft, blog post, or manuscript doesn't have to be flawless. It's about starting somewhere, anywhere. Remember, every great writer was once a beginner, grappling with the same uncertainties and learning from their mistakes.

Embrace your unique voice and share your stories. You might be surprised at how your words can resonate with others, inspire change, or simply provide a cathartic outlet for your thoughts and experiences.

I encourage you to share your stories of beginnings and growth in the comments. Whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting out, your journey is valuable. Let's inspire and support each other in this incredible journey of writing, learning, and growing. 


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Chelsey is the founder and head copywriter of Crystal Clear Copy. She is an avid writer, published author, and lover of cats and craft beer.

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