Interview- How Adrienne Dawn Balances Writing with a Virtual Assistant Day Job

“A writer is a world trapped in a person.” –Victor Hugo

Adrienne Dawn wrote her first book in sixth grade. She even designed her own cover, and after nabbing an A+ on the story in school, her love for writing was born. She enjoyed creative writing and drama throughout high school. She continued to write, but mostly covered sports stories in high school, including a weekly column called Behind the Bench, featuring stories and anecdotes from her time as boys and girls’ basketball manager.

Following college graduation, she knew she wanted a career in writing, but that insurmountable task of writing the Great American Novel seemed too high of a hill to climb. For years, she settled for writing and photographing sports events and other news for local newspapers. As eBooks became more and more popular, her husband encouraged–no, shoved her into writing her first full novel, which she completed in less than five weeks.

Hooked on writing fiction, Adrienne has plans to put some interactive short stories for children on the Amazon Alexa platform.

Adrienne currently has four books available, including:

She has some short children’s stories available as well. You can check out all the books she has available on Amazon.

If being a writer wasn’t enough, Adrienne also works as an executive administrative assistant 20-25 hours a week.

How did she get involved in these two roles?

Executive Administrative Assistant:

“I answered an ad on Craigslist that I was pretty sure was a hoax, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I took a brief survey, then I had a 20-minute interview over the phone, then a 45-minute in-person interview and then got the job offer.”

As far as being a writer, Adrienne had this to say:

” I have only been writing books and such since 2013, when I got tired of reading books in the Christian culture that didn’t really feel realistic to me. I’ve been writing all my life, but it wasn’t until my husband told me to quit complaining about the books I was reading and actually write my own that I’ve been writing fiction.”

Adrienne has been taking on both of these work-at-home roles for about four years now. While she hopes to one day be able to replace her income from her day job with her writing, she does enjoy the work.

. “I have set a goal for my 45th birthday to be the latest this would happen. [replacing the income.] I would probably continue working for my boss for at least several more years.”

As to writing, she says she wants to do that forever!

 

So, why did Adrienne choose the work-from-home route?

She wanted to be home with her four children, while still maintaining an income. Having adopted two of the four children when she began, she needed something flexible:

“I needed something that would let me be the parent to take the kids to their appointments, stay home with them when they were sick, etc. This let me do that and so much more.”

As for her writing, Adrienne had this to say:

“Writing—it chose me. I couldn’t NOT do it.”

Once she chose to work from home, Adrienne had to decide what her strengths were. Knowing she was good at organization and details, administrative assistant seemed like a good fit.

“I’m extremely good at what my boss calls “Managing Up.” Meaning, I remind him of what he needs to do, I keep him organized, I handle all kinds of things like booking travel to initial reaching out to potential clients to maintaining those clients, etc.”

Her writing skills have also helped in this position. Her boss is also an author, so she was able to help him promote his book, acting as a social media manager.

She has helped him with all his business ventures, including a business, Culture Index, that helps executives get desired advantages during the hiring process, and the opening of his gym. She helped with all the ordering, hiring, etc.

As an executive administrative assistant, Adrienne gets to take on a little bit of everything. It’s a good thing she likes change.

“I enjoy doing a little bit of everything, so it’s never boring.”

 

We all know every job has rewards and challenges associated with it. What are they for Adrienne?

 

Rewards:

“The most rewarding part of my work is when I do something that my boss was going to ask me to do, but I beat him to it, and he tells me so. I really enjoy being able to think ahead and prove my reliability, trust and the fact that I don’t just sit back and wait for him to tell me what to do.

 

The most rewarding part of my writing career is getting a review from someone saying my book was “unputdownable.” Or something similar to that— “I ugly cried.” That makes me feel good. But really, I also really just enjoy seeing my words in print. To hold my book in my hand, that is such a great feeling.”

As for the other side…

Challenges:

“The most challenging part of my J-O-B is making myself get up and do the work—I’m NOT a morning person. So, since I don’t have to be in an office by 8am or something like that, I have a very hard time motivating myself to get going.

The most challenging part of my writing is that I tend to go on benders. I will write and write and write and just go and go for days, any spare moment I have, and then I don’t want anything to do with it for sometimes months at a time. I hate that, and I want to get more consistent.”

 

Every business requires continuing education to keep up with the different aspects of the work required. So what are Adrienne’s words of advice for the administrative business?

Words of Wisdom:

“Be careful. If you want to work for a great boss like mine, you might have to sort through the kooks out there.

I think you have to make sure you are a very self-motivated person in order to work from home.”

This second point is especially true if you have children at home.

“That’s why I go to Starbucks most days, even sometimes when the kids are out of school. I’m only a phone call away, but if I’m at home when they are, (they are old enough to be home alone now, unlike when I first started this job) I am constantly getting interrupted to break up fights, disagreements, etc. And if they are at school and I work from home, I tend to notice the laundry, the dishes, the dogs need to go in and out, and it just interrupts my workflow, whether I am working for my J-O-B or writing, so I have to get out of the house.”

She also advises someone looking to break into the administrative world to know their weaknesses:

. “If you aren’t motivated to get out of bed, make an appointment for first thing in the morning so you have to, then go to work. For me, I am currently in the middle of recovering from a terrible accident from two years ago, so I’m still in physical therapy. I tend to set those appointments for first thing in the morning when they open, so I have to get up and go to that. Once I’m out of the house, I’m good for the rest of the day. If I stay home, I’m also extremely tempted to nap! So, I have to get out of the house to avoid that temptation. So, if you know these things about yourself, plan around them!”

As to breaking into the writing world, Adrienne’s advice is to schedule time to write and make sure you find a place where you can get the writing done.

“If I have time blocked off to write, I have to leave the house to get it done. Otherwise, I will just sit around and do nothing, or just veg with the family. I plan specific time to veg with my family—I don’t have a problem with that, but I want to have specific time to write outside of my J-O-B time and my time with my family.”

Her favorite place to write is Starbucks, but each person will be different. Find the place you will have the most motivation.

She also recommends music to help drown out the world around you.

 

But what advice would she give to those wanting to start any type of work-from-home opportunity?

“Figure out your weaknesses and then plan around them. Outgun yourself, so to speak. If you’re not a morning person, figure out a way around that.

I simply can’t get up at 5 am and write. I just have too much of a brain fog before 10 am to be productive. However, during the school year, my husband and I trade off getting up with the kids for school. So I know that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I am going to be up at 6:30 with the kids, and they generally just need someone around to keep them moving, they usually handle all the breakfast and lunch-packing themselves, so I am free to get up and get some work done for my J-O-B in between “Mom, where is my lunchbox?” and “Mom, where is my other tennis shoe?” and “Mom, I thought you were making my lunch?” This means I will be up and ready to go. Then I get ready for my day and get going to Starbucks.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are different. Because I don’t get up with the kids at 6:30, I have to do something else to get myself out of the house at a decent hour. (Because I don’t want to get up that early every single morning!) That is why I schedule my physical therapy sessions for 9am. That’s when they open, and that way I can take my time getting ready for the day, go do PT and then go straight to Starbucks for the rest of the day.”

 

“You know what your weaknesses are. Plan for them in advance, and they won’t take you down!”

So, what does Adrienne think it takes to be an entrepreneur?

“An entrepreneur has to have tenacity, because things are tough in the beginning. You have to keep at it like a pit bull, and you have to enjoy those early days when you are everything to everyone. You might be wearing all the hats at once, and you have to like to have things that way. I think a true entrepreneur kind of can’t help but continue to want to start something new. I find this is very true for my boss, and I have to drag him back from the rabbit trails sometimes and tell him now is not the time for something new!”

What are Adrienne’s final thoughts on working from home?

“Working from home used to be something that sounded so glamorous. It’s not. It means you don’t have to dress up for work every day. That also means you can end up staying in your pajamas. Which for me, is not good. Pajamas = sleepiness. So, make sure you get up and get yourself moving. If you’re a morning person, working for yourself might be much easier!”

If you would like to connect with Adrienne, or learn more about her current and upcoming books, you can check her out on:

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

 

Want to learn more about what it’s like to work from home? Check out my other interviews.

 

 

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