Cameron Rhudy

The Artful Lawyer: Keep Working

As one more year winds down, it is natural to reflect on the experiences had over the past year. For me, writing for Ms. JD as a Writer in Residence has been one of the highlights. This blog has provided an opportunity for me to explore different ways of looking at creativity and the practice of law, and I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to share my thoughts, fears, and interests. I would also like to thank Juliana Siconolfi for her wonderful support as the coordinator of the program this year, as well as the other Ms. JD contributors. I really enjoyed reading the diverse perspectives and experiences that have been shared on this site. Unlike so many other blogs, where negativity seems so prevalent, Ms. JD stands out as a supportive and safe environment for women law students and lawyers. For that I am truly grateful.

A Look Back

When I applied last fall to be a Ms. JD Writer in Residence, I didn’t really know what was in store for me. Have you ever closed your eyes and held your breath when you sent an email that you were scared to send out into the world? That is exactly what I did when I applied for this writing gig. Sure, I was able to put together a couple coherent sentences about my idea for this blog, but I did not have a master plan for what I wanted to write about each month.  All I knew is that I had the very basic desire to write more, and I thought it would be interesting to explore creativity and the practice of law in a variety of ways.  So when I was chosen to participate in this program, I was super excited, but then I thought, “uh-oh, I am in trouble now.”

Austin Kleon, the artist and author of Show Your Work, recently held online office hours during which he answered questions asked by his fans. At the end of office hours he summarized that the questions he received can be boiled down to this:  1) I am scared and 2) I don’t know what to do. To which he responds: 1) One day you’ll be dead, and 2) Keep working.

Kleon’s advice of keep working is essentially the approach I took with this blog. Throughout the year, even though there were times when it would have been easier to just skip a month, I showed up and I put in the work. And to be honest, it wasn’t easy. Each month I seemed to struggle with a different aspect of the writing process. Sometimes my initial brainstorming sessions failed to reveal a topic I was excited to write about. During those times I struggled for days to dump random thoughts onto a page, trying desperately to find a connection between them with no success, until finally I would find myself drawn to a single sentence or particular thought that I could build on.  For the months I did my interviews, I had to go out of my comfort zone and reach out to people I did not know personally, which was actually a big step for me. And during other months, I wrestled with more basic things like time management, the question of how much personal information to share about myself in a given post, or knowing when to just stop editing and let something go.

And as my time as a Ms. JD Writer in Residence comes to an end, I couldn’t be happier that I stuck with it. I have learned more about writing and my writing process, I have become more comfortable with the blogging format, I better understand the importance of sticking to an editorial calendar, and I have personal proof that good things come out of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.  Most importantly, I feel like this experience has helped me build the confidence I need to take on the next year.

A Look Forward

To say that the coming year will be a challenge is an understatement. Not only have I recently quit my job to transition practice areas and start my own law practice, but what I have not mentioned before is that I am also expecting my first child in March. For lack of a better expression, yes, the timing sucks. Having to temporarily back off from building my law practice just six months in is far short of ideal. It might even seem straight up stupid. And as I quickly approach my due date, it sometimes feels that way too.

But when I get discouraged, I will have to tell myself to “keep working,” even if I don’t see immediate returns or benefits (I am also fond of the similar phrase “keep truckin’).  The success of my law practice will take time to build, and with the new baby in the mix it will take even longer than I would have liked. But just as this blog came together one month at a time, I will eventually have a successful law practice if I just keep working. What that will look like from day to day will differ of course, particularly once the baby is born. But if I continue to work on learning my new practice areas and practice management strategies, focusing on my marketing, and building relationships with my ideal clients and other like-minded lawyers, then I believe my hard work will pay off.

So for those of you who are tackling a new challenge or two (or more) this coming year, when you are feeling discouraged or simply “not feeling it,” I, like Austin Kleon, encourage you to keep working. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

If you liked this blog and would like to continue to follow me online, I have started a new blog focused on letterpress printing, design, and the creative process at dabblerpress.com

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