news writing

Eight Years After Room 524

It dawned on me a few days ago that today is eight years since I started my life as a skills trainer. On September 15th 2008, I registered my business. I was a guy with a PhD in maths, a few ideas about what I might do as a freelancer, but no real clue. This was me:

My last day in the postgraduate office

I left behind Room 524, my workspace for nearly four years. One day I was working surrounded by interesting people who loved research. The next day I was working alone at the dining room table: What to do? How to start? It seems like yesterday sometimes, and also like another life. A lot has happened in eight years (I got married! I have a daughter!). Work highlights include:

I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people, and I know that I’ve learned a lot along the way. It’s not always easy to be a freelancer. There can be a lot of disappointments. But you can work to your values: it is very liberating to realise that you can step back from something that isn’t satisfying. You can say no to things that you think will get in the way, and say yes to things that excite you or you think can make a difference.

One of the things I like most is the freedom to do fun things, to play. You can do something “just because”. I have thoughts for more little experiments and “just because” ideas; let me know in the comments if you want to hear more.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

quick thought

Seven Years

I often think about my PhD as being one of the defining things that I’ve done with my life (thus far). It was a huge deal, doing research in that field, and I know that it’s something that has set me up for the rest of my life – good or bad!

But it was actually a long time ago now. For me, perhaps because of the kind of work that I do, it feels like it was much more recent, but I woke up today and realised that I’ve been in business for seven years now.

Twice as long as my PhD.

Like my PhD, it’s not what I thought it would be at the start, I’ve learned a whole lot of things that I never would have imagined. I break my working life up into smaller projects, but unlike the PhD I have no deadline for when this job will be done. It’s changed (most recently, the business became a partnership between me and my wife), and it will continue to change.

I love what I do. I grew into this job, thinking “I wonder…” and where I am now is completely different from where I was at the beginning. That’s no bad thing. I wonder what I’ll do next… Any ideas?

If you have been, thanks for reading.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)


Summer Experiments Revisited

Just over two months ago I wrote a post where I talked about my plans for the summer. I would be blogging less, and on different things, and I’d be doing that because I had a writing project that I was super keen on! I was going to change the world! I was young, the world was good and nothing was going to get in my way!


Well, what actually happened was I went on holiday for a week, came back, looked at what I was writing and fell head over heels out of love with it. I thought that the writing itself was alright, but I wasn’t sold on the overall project any more. It didn’t sing to me. And similarly for the alternative blogging that I was thinking of doing on here, I just didn’t have the heart for it any more. I liked the concept, but wasn’t sure about where the execution of it was going. I guess, maybe it didn’t need to be going anywhere in particular, but still I just wasn’t feeling it.

So I did something completely different: I started a role-playing game business.