Reader queries: “I want to make the switch from accountancy to writing – how difficult is it?”

The past few months have been busy ones – as well as taking a trip to Barcelona (beautiful city, by the way; I highly recommend a visit), I’ve been continuing to work on the editorial team of a weekly tax magazine (the recent UK Budget in March and the subsequent Finance Bill kept me very busy). I had my “Tax and Russia” article published, as part of a special report on tax in the BRIC countries. I’m also still writing a lot. I haven’t been so good at keeping up my daily habit of writing 500 words a day – that mini-resolution fell away in March, BUT I have still been writing almost every day (so at least several times a week) and writing about 800 words of creative writing a day, so all is not lost.

Recently, however, I received a reader query, which I will share below (as well as my answer) in the hope it’ll help those in a similar situation.

IMG_9871 (Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain. One of Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces.)

“Hi Santhie, I recently came across your article on, and found it so inspirational. I’m a newly qualified chartered accountant who hates her job and the profession. I too have always enjoyed writing and set up a blog last year to document my travels with my husband so I could at least continue my passion to some extent.

I was wondering how difficult you found it to make the switch from being an accountant to a writer, i.e. what stumbling blocks did you come across? I’d really appreciate any advice you could give me as to how I too can follow my own passion in life, as opposed to being stuck in a job I hate.” 

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Quote of the day: ‘Be ruthless about protecting writing days’


J K Rowling, author of the phenomenally bestselling Harry Potter series, advises writers to ‘guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.’ (For those of you that have never read the Harry Potter series, the Hungarian Horntail is a particularly ferocious and bloodthirsty dragon.) Granted, this will be an unusually – and no doubt surprisingly – short post from me 🙂 but I thought I’d post this quote as this is something I could really do with remembering right now, what with the sheer amount of writing work I know I have to get done.

(Picture credit: This image has been adapted from the original image by Daniel Ogren which is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. This image is licenced under the same Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence, and first appeared on this website.)

Choosing one word for 2014: What’s your word?

Last month, I read about blogger Alece Ronzino’s approach to New Year’s Resolutions: instead of making long lists of goals, choose just one word for the entire year, and use that one word as a focus to guide everything you do for the next 365 days. On her blog, separate to the #OneWord365 project that she set up six years ago (and that I linked to above), she talks a little more about it. So I’ve been wondering: if I had to choose just one word to focus on for 2014, one word to guide my thoughts, actions and decisions in 2014, what would it be?

 (Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy. I guess ‘travel’ was the word summing up my 2013.)

Admittedly, I’m late to the party – it is now mid-February, after all – but I think I’ve now got it… or at least, I’ve now managed to come up with a word that I’m hoping will serve as a good guide for me in 2014.  Continue reading

Getting things done: How tiny, daily habits build up (or: what I learned from my January mini-resolution)


So, we’re one month into the New Year (and if you observe Chinese New Year like I do, we’re also right at the beginning of another New Year), and this means it’s probably a good time to reflect on one’s New Year’s Resolutions so far. Or, in my case, mini-resolutions so far. And, of course, if we’ve learned anything from them. Continue reading

On New Year’s Resolutions (or: what I learned about how to get what you want)

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about the whole topic of New Year’s Resolutions after reading Jeff Goins’s blog post on the topic (entitled ‘Why You Shouldn’t Bother With Resolutions This Year’ – it’s a blog aimed at writers, but the post is worth a read as it can apply to any resolution one might make), where he argues that one should focus on something far better than simply making resolutions: having resolve.

IMG_8735 (Rome, Italy. One place we’d always wanted to visit, and finally got to in 2013.)

New Year’s Resolutions have almost become a bit of a running joke: no sooner does anyone make one (whether it’s to get fit, lose weight, start a business, drink less, eat more healthily, write a book, give up smoking), you know that many people will – and probably already have – failed theirs just a few days into the new year itself. Is there any point to making any? Why do we bother? Should we bother?  Continue reading

Thought for the day: Going after what you truly want is hard

Going after what you really, truly want – deep down in your heart of hearts want – is hard.

It is so much easier to go after something you don’t really want that much. That career that’s not your dream career but “hey, it pays the bills”. That small property in a not-ideal area that you tell yourself will do as a “starter home” or “just to get on the first rung of the housing ladder”. That business in an industry that isn’t quite what you’d want to work in, but “at least it’s safe”. That job you only take because your CV proves your experience for the role. That man or woman you’re not really that fussed about. If they do say yes, if they do agree to take you on, then hey, at least “they’ll do”.

(Spoof boy-band singing “Girl, You’ll Do” from Charlie Brooker’s BBC show, How TV Ruined Your Life. Do watch the clip – it’s HILARIOUS.)

Because – terror of terrors! – what if you tried to get into your dream job or career, and they said no???? What if you did try to save up for a better house, or move to a better area, and you couldn’t do it??? What if you tried to start that business in the industry you really wanted to work in, and you failed??? What if you asked out that man or woman you really like, and they laughed in your face???

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Appearances on other blogs: My wedding, and my career change story

I got married last year. My husband and I, being avid gamers and huge fans of the popular sci-fi videogame franchise Mass Effect (an epic battle saga of good-versus-evil set in outer space during 2183–2186 AD), decided it might be fun to incorporate elements from the series into our wedding day. However, as anyone who ever plans a wedding knows, despite what anyone ever tells you, your ‘big day’ is not just about you – expectations from family and good friends come into play, so (fortunately for our mothers and my bridesmaids, at least) cosplay wedding costumes were definitely out! 😀 

Wedding Photos-day 2-low res-55(From the next day’s photoshoot: In front of St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, UK.)

Deciding which elements to include and which to leave out, especially because with an unusual/geeky theme most of the wedding day items needed to be created from scratch, was incredibly difficult. We were working to a budget and very tight time constraints in which to do anything: balancing full-time working with planning a wedding in my husband’s home village – nearly 300 miles away from where we live! – attempting to find tasteful, non-tacky and affordable ways to incorporate a non-standard geeky wedding theme, and balancing everyone else’s expectations with what you (as the wedding couple) want, is incredibly hard and incredibly stressful. Especially when all you want to do is simply marry the man of your dreams, and forget all the faff and fuss that goes around it!

I cannot possibly say if we got the wedding ‘right’, as everyone will have different views on what we should and shouldn’t have done; everyone will have different views on what constitutes ‘tacky’ and ‘classy’; everyone will have different views on what is ‘a waste of money’ and ‘worth paying for’… but my hope is that we got the important part right: not the Mass Effect theme, but whether our guests – our closest friends and family – were well-fed and well-looked-after. Beyond that, nothing else matters. I really hope we got that bit right. I hope our guests loved our wedding day as much as my husband and I did.

Our photographer was London-based Kari Bellamy, and thanks to her we had the honour of having our Mass Effect wedding featured on the ‘When Geeks Wed’ blog – here is the link:

My other blog appearance was on the popular CareerShifters site: my own career change was featured in their ‘Success Stories’ column, and I hope it manages to inspire and help people as much as their previous career-changing success stories inspired and helped me. You can read all about how I changed career from a corporate tax accountant to a freelance writer and editor here: It’s a long article, but hopefully a fairly comprehensive ‘how I did it’ piece. Changing career is not easy, but absolutely can be done – and once you do, there is no shortage of people who’d love to know how to do the same.

Working from anywhere: is it always a good thing?

It has been a while since I last posted here; a lot has happened since then. I spent the months of March to May travelling the world: in March, to Doha, Qatar, to spend time with a good friend of mine who moved out there; in March and April, to China to visit family and tour the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong (including short day trips to the cities of Hangzhou and Suzhou); and in April and May, to Chicago in the USA on a work-related trip.

IMG_5321(Riding camels in the Arabian Desert, in Qatar. Hard to get used to.)

Travel is a huge passion of mine; although since we spent only a week back in the UK after each trip getting ready for the next one (while sleeping off jet-lag, securing the right visas, and dealing with the piles of travel laundry before packing for the next big trip), I question whether travelling as much as we did in that short a space of time is really wise: the jet-lag and the exhaustion are terrible! I think I’ve only just recovered enough to start posting to this blog again, and it’s June already!

I was fortunate to be able to take my work with me for most of my time away from the UK – as long as I have my trusty laptop, smartphone and a good Wi-Fi internet connection, I can pretty much work anywhere. Working from our room in the US was fine; all I needed to do was take the six-hour time difference into account when interviewing people back in the UK for an article I was writing (a piece for on how recent global tax changes may affect business in the Channel Islands – see page 70 of this month’s interactive online magazine for the article), but working in China was a little more tricky – the Wi-Fi in our hotel was rather flaky, and producing even a short piece for PC Advisor magazine reviewing Sage One payroll software was a struggle.  Continue reading

How to work from home in an exceptionally small living space: my first ever guest blog post

I have been away recently working on other projects, hence the blogging hiatus, but thank you to everyone who has read and commented in the meantime! I hope to share details of the other projects I’ve been working on soon… but, in the meantime, I’m pleased to announce that one of those projects is a guest post I’ve recently had published on Judy Heminsley’s popular blog, Work From Home Wisdom. Judy is a UK-based small business owner with decades of experience running her business from home, and she has been sharing advice and wisdom about home-working (and running workshops) since 2008.

IMG_1847 (Working from home, although not on my aforementioned guest blog post.)

Aimed at helping those of us who live in very small one-bedroom flats, studio flats, bedsits etc (especially in the inner cities where the amount of space for the population tends to be lower), my guest post – reproduced here – contained a few tips gleaned from my own personal experience of working from home in a small, city living space.  Continue reading