Why I Write - Dan Purdy
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
My journey towards writing was rather circuitous. As a high school robotics team member and aerospace engineering student in college, my writing was often described as a report. Minimal descriptors, zero transitions, and slightly less conversational than a cinderblock. My intent was to relay facts or lab results, and nothing more. But clearly, something changed along the way.
That something occurred on October 5th, 2015. I was browsing through travel articles during a self-assigned break from my engineering work when I stumbled across an article describing the concept of long-term travel. Until now, this concept was utterly foreign to me.
The author described how she had left her graphic designing job to travel the world while slowly etching out a digital freelance career for herself. In the end, she could travel indefinitely, not be bound to a single desk, and live wherever she pleased – and I thought to myself, 'why not me?'.
That same day, I sat down and started listing everything I'd need to make the concept of indefinite travel a reality. One particular heading on the list was 'how to earn money remotely,' and directly below that was 'freelance writing?'. That's all it took. A few Google searches later, and I had my first writer profile on a freelancing website. A few weeks later, I had my first gig. A couple of months later found me with two recurring clients. And now, after several years, my own company.
During that time, I've learned that my love of writing is twofold.
From my introduction to writing, it's clear that independence is a significant driving factor behind my new career. Years of engineering college followed by a full-time desk job hardly leaves room for adventure, and the imagination does tend to wander between design reports and staff meetings.
I dreamed of limitless potential, where I could choose where I'd explore, work, and live on a month-to-month, or even day-to-day, basis. To succeed, I needed the flexibility to work from almost anywhere, and content writing was my avenue to get there.
If I could check in on the internet a few times a week, I'm set. With that as the only criteria, the world exploded with possibility when I left my full-time engineering career in 2017. Since then, I've written about titanium's molecular composition from a remote Norwegian cabin, the intricacies of travel from the shade of the Scottish Cairngorms, and gear reviews while sitting under a mango tree in Nicaragua.
This newfound freedom quickly led to another passion, connecting with other adventurous individuals through travel and outdoor adventure. In almost no time, I found myself backpacking, rock climbing, and running every opportunity I had. Naturally, this passion influenced my story-telling significantly and is now the second pillar forming my reason for writing.
As I tweaked, edited, and honed my writing over the years, I developed a passion for connecting with others through my stories. And from that passion, a distinct and – I hope – enjoyable writing style emerged.
I knew that readers exploring an article about backpacking were already interested in that topic, and we, therefore, already had so much in common! We're part of the same tribe, as it were, the grubby, dusty adventure seekers traipsing off into the wilderness.
But remember, outdoor adventure was perhaps the greatest non sequitur of my life, coming immediately after years of technical study and aerospace design. Therefore, I savor the opportunity to connect with my technical past whenever I can. No matter if I'm writing about the painstaking engineering design process – I've been there – or the minutia of calculating turbine efficiency – the textbook is still on my bookshelf – I love connecting with readers that share my infinite interest in technology.
Feeling that connection to the reader allows me to write as though I'm talking to a close friend, relating my knowledge and experiences, fun anecdotes, and mistakes. Put all those points together, add a little fun and conversational writing, and we have an engaging and helpful article that was an absolute pleasure to write.
Why I Write
I'm often on the receiving end of quizzical glances or eye rolls when I tell others that I switched from a 'safe' engineering career to the constant adventure of freelance writing. All I can say is that my priorities are different from the majority, and I write to make sure those priorities stay on top – independence and lasting connections.
So now you know what writing means to me, and trust me, it's worth the effort. Nothing is quite as satisfying as putting the finishing touches on an article or including a personal story to help others reach their full potential. It's rewarding, it's tough, and I've never looked back.