In Love with Reinvention

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At a March writing workshop with food bloggers in Liz Schmitt's San Diego home (Photo courtesy of Averie Sunshine of Averie Cooks)

Reinvention keeps me in love with my career. It gives me the ability to shape my work into what interests me. So far I’ve had lots of inventions, since graduating from journalism school decades ago. I’ve been a

  • newspaper reporter and editor
  • magazine editor
  • interactive book editor
  • freelance writer
  • website designer
  • book author
  • book collaborator
  • manuscript editor
  • blogger
  • teacher
  • speaker.

And I’m just getting started. It’s a privilege to work this way, and I know it. Not everyone gets to go off in new directions.

But you probably do it too as a food writer. Your career might include cooking teacher, caterer, photographer, food stylist, and writer-of-other-content-that-actually-pays-decently (a broad category). Or maybe it’s the other way around: you have a day job, and food writing is your reinvention.

My latest reinvention is to hold private day-long classes on food writing. It’s not much of a stretch. I’ve taught food writing at schools and at conferences for more than 10 years, and I’ve coached people privately for more than a dozen years. Plus, I get to travel, hang out with food-obsessed writers, and eat well. What’s better than that?

My debut was in Hawaii last December, when food blogger Mariko Jackson brought me to Honolulu to teach at a beautiful Japanese tea house for the day. Most recently, food blogger Liz Schmitt brought me to San Diego to do a workshop with members of a San Diego food blogger group. A few of the bloggers wrote lovely posts:

Now word is spreading and more bloggers are creating workshops. There’s one coming up in Southern California on May 19, hosted by food blogger Kim Burnell; and a September 21 workshop outside Dublin, Ireland, hosted by multi-tasker Dorcas Barry of the Irish Food Bloggers Association. I’m always interested in what’s next, so if you’d like me to come to your town, shoot me an email at

Now, how about you? What is your latest reinvention? How’s it working for you?



  1. says

    Dianne, I can’t say how envious I am of those who get the chance to spend some time with you and share your knowledge. I just hope that one day I will have the chance to be one of them. I’m working on it.

    • diannejacob says

      My pleasure. Thanks for all you brought to the class and those great chocolate frozen goodies. So, what is your reinvention?

  2. says

    I’m Averie of Averie Cooks these days :)

    Thanks for an amazing workshop, Dianne! It was a pleasure meeting you in person and if you plan to cover more/new topics in May in the OC, lmk and I’ll drive up!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh right, sorry about that. I’ll fix it. I’m afraid it will be more of the same, unless I hear about new things subjects people want me to cover. But it was great to meet you at last.

  3. says

    Teaching in such an intimate setting sounds perfect: everyone is more relaxed, there is less teacher-student differentiation, it’s less crowded, and food (and wine, I hope) can only bring everyone closer.
    Reinventing yourself is often a result of a necessity, but I also believe that we are all multifaceted people who are creative in more than one area.
    Should I count mine since graduating with a BA in English and Italian?
    Tutor, interpreter, translator, journalist, live radio reporter (hated it!), high school teacher, ski-resort guard (always let the kids ski for free:), tree-farm worker, waitress, bartender, manager of a beauty salon (hated it!), ghostwriter (loved it, got payed miserably), proof reader. One of these days I’ll reinvent myself into a writer who actually makes some money from my trade:)
    I really wish I could join you in OC (it’s in my ‘hood, I love Kim, and I would love to meet you), but unless I scratch off a significant amount in Triple Crossword scratch ticket, it will remain a wish unfulfilled:)

    • diannejacob says

      It is a wonderful setting, actually! There was no wine at either event. I don’t want anyone falling asleep after lunch! Although with a small group, it’s harder to hide.

      That’s quite a list, Lana. I loved it. Particularly tree-farm worker and beauty salon manager. Yes, making money from one of these endeavors would be nice. I seem to have a black belt at reinventing myself into careers with low pay, so I know what you mean. But I’m having a good time, and I’ve decided that’s worth more than anything.

      Seriously, you’re not going to come? It’s not so expensive. I hope you will reconsider. It would be great to meet you after all this time of knowing you only through the looking glass.

  4. says

    My husband and I seem to be in the business of reinventing ourselves! We don’t only love it, we crave it. As someone who is so passionate about writing, I love teaching it and not only have spoken at conferences about food writing but teach it at our own workshop, which is thrilling. And I think teaching also helps me understand more and more about my own writing each time I do it. I find it exciting and flattering when people email me asking for advice, guidance or critique – and I envy you that you can organize those private classes like you give; maybe that is my next step. I would love doing that. My latest reinvention isn’t so much a reinvention as an extension – and it is just getting started now. Hard work and it hasn’t quite paid off yet – it is still being constructed – but getting the great feedback I’ve been getting so far is exciting, satisfying and encouraging. Your own career so inspires me, Dianne!

    • diannejacob says

      Yes, I think the last time I saw you, your husband was on the brink of a reinvention. I hope it’s going well. What I find with teaching is that I learn so much from my students. They have a lot of wisdom and introspection to offer — sometimes they know more than I do on a subject. It makes me a better coach.

      Re organizing the private classes, someone takes it on! I can hardly believe it. Perhaps you can find someone who will do the same.

      So what is this latest extension or reinvention, or would you rather not say?

  5. says

    I can’t wait for the Irish one!
    You are an inspiration to all us food bloggers out there Dianne and I feel lucky to
    have the opportunity to attend one of your workshops. Roll on September!

  6. says

    I’ve been a teacher and a marketing manager and consultant. Now I am a food photographer and blogger. At age 46 I am looking at finding ways to make all of this more financially stable, since I have a need not only to do what interests me, but also a steady income so that I can contribute too our family too. It’s time. Now, if only I knew what direction to steer this bobbing boat into….

    • diannejacob says

      That sounds like fun. Now as to making an actual income from your blog, good luck with that. Very few have accomplished it.

  7. says

    Hope I can attend one of these someday. I need to share a lottery ticket with Lana maybe :)
    I am learning about how to reinvent myself, because it is risky, failure is always an option but at the same time it feels just good! I am a non-risk taker, stick to what you do for years and be loyal to your company type of 35 year old person and my husband is teaching me on how not to be stuck because he is the opposite. He knows how to love what he does, and if not, he leaves onto the next thing. So I hope I get to that point soon, because life is short :)
    Thanks for being inspiring.

    • diannejacob says

      You know, it’s not that expensive! You don’t need a lottery ticket.

      How lucky you are, Ilke, to have a husband who is different from you and who encourages you to take more risk. Life is definitely getting shorter all the time, so I hope you get on with what might excite you. Good luck with it.

  8. says

    It sounds like your workshop was a resounding success! (I read Stephanie’s post.) Good for you!
    In one of my incarnations (I’m talking about this life!) I worked for Radcliffe Career Services and re-invention is not only more common than you would think, but necessary. Life is long–and it is really fun to stretch and re-purpose all your skills. My most recent re-invention is writing regularly for a newspaper and after making my own photos for my recipes, I am now asked to do photos for other recipes. And I had my first “story” this month in Vegetarian Times. All I can say is, baby steps, it takes time, and say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. In the words of Miss Frizzle: take chances, make mistakes, get messy! I am looking forward to finally meeting you at IACP. Thanks for all your thoughtful posts.

    • diannejacob says

      Yes, I thought it went well, thanks. We had a very talented group of bloggers.

      I suppose reinvention is common, whether you’re self-employed or you just get a different kind of job. It can be planned or just a chance. I like Miss Frizzle’s advice.

      It sounds like you’re doing well with regular freelancing for a newspaper and your first story in a national magazine. Congratulations! Those are pretty big baby steps.

      Looking forward to meeting you at IACP too, after knowing you virtually.

  9. says

    Things have changed. People no longer get a job right out of college and stick with it for life. Reinventing ourselves is a necessity, especially as we age. In yoga talk, it means being flexible, finding balance, accepting change, and being open to finding new purpose in our lives. You’re a perfect example of doing this in a graceful and productive way. One of the keys to your success (from my vantage point) is consistency, professionalism, expertise, and consideration for others. Although you’ve been able to reinvent yourself, the basic core of who you are and what you do, stays the same. That’s the key to being successfully flexible. =)

    As always, insightful post, Dianne!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh this is too much, Melissa. Thank you. This is what Sally said also, that reinvention is a necessity, and I think you are both right.

      Some reinventions are not going to work. Ex. a friend suggested I should work with p.r. companies to get their products into food blogs. I could do it but it doesn’t seem right to me. I would actually like to see less product placement in food blogs. So yes, good point, you still have to be true to who you are.

    • says

      Excellent point, Melissa. I think that reinvention is a bit of a misnomer, although we all use the term. I’ve gone through more changes professionally in the last few years than I ever dreamed I would, but in the end all I’ve really done is to move closer and closer to my authentic self. I think the key to successful growth is to apply what you learned in one incarnation to the next.


  10. says

    Becoming a mom early in life (18), I made the decision to do whatever fit our family best (job wise) with the goal of being home when my kids were home. Interior design, wholesale rep, insurance agent, investment adviser, community organizer, childcare provider, bible study leader, home school mom, home school co-op administrator, all spanning 27 years. Our youngest is now a Junior in high school (in public school) and for the past two years I have been writing and blogging about food. I wouldn’t call it reinventing necessarily because my passion for food has always been there, poured out for family and friends. If anything, I was reinventing all these years past to meet a need, as so many do.
    I would describe this season of endeavor more like rebirth, an awakening of a dormant dream. The technical side (photography, site maintenance, social media, advertising, etc) has been a steep learning curve (makes my brain hurt sometimes), but the passion and topic is in place. I have found something I could do for the rest of my life simply because I love it. My hope is that it will also provide financially at some point.

    I’m sure one of your workshops would help me a great deal, it is on my wish list. In the meanwhile, I will continue to soak up all the insight I can through your timely blog posts. :)

    • diannejacob says

      How poetic to describe your new passion this way, as a rebirth of a dormant dream. I’ve met many moms who start blogging when their kids are older, and it seems so satisfying to them to express themselves this way. The technical side has been a steep learning curve for me as well, and I always feel behind.

      Re providing financially, others here have wondered about the same thing. For most people, the blog can provide some income, but not enough to pay the bills.

  11. says

    Actor, teacher, director, playwright. And while I have no wish to be considered “jack of all trades, master of none,” re-invention keeps us afloat if you work in the creative field – which food writers do.

    • diannejacob says

      It sounds like each of these careers was by your own design, vs. having to do a job. What a privilege for you as well, Claudia.

  12. says

    I agree that reinvention keeps things lively, although in general I would say that reinvention shapes me rather than the other way around! These days I’m actually writing less about food. I got into food writing about 15 years ago when there seemed to be a real need for writers, particularly at major newspapers–and because food is something one can write about and link to just about any topic. Now there are huge numbers of food writers, which makes for great colleagiality but lousy employment! So I’m working on a book proposal about taking care of my elderly mother … and seeing what else comes down the pike! Good luck with your classes, Dianne; they sound wonderful!

    • diannejacob says

      So now you are reinventing yourself as a potential book author, through a memoir. Good luck with that, Tinky. I agree that 15 years ago the scene was a little different for food writers. I’m not sure why — bigger budgets, no free content online? Regardless, when one career goes away, we seek out the next one.

  13. says

    I benefit so much from your direct work as a writer and blogger; you get me thinking and questioning and keep me mulling and stretching with the posts you do right here. Hearing your presentations and conversations at International Food Bloggers Conference in New Orleans last summer extended the benefits I receive as a writer, food person, and free lancer. This smart, creative extension of your work inspires me to think of my own reinvention possibilities. And also to think about getting you over here to Piedmont North Carolina to do this very thing!

    • diannejacob says

      Thank you so much for such a compliment, Nancie. I’m sure you have many more reinventions within you on top of food writer, author, cooking teacher and speaker — and whatever else is on your plate. I’ve always wanted to come to N. Carolina. Let’s make it happen! And let’s meet up at IACP too, okay?

  14. says

    Moving to 5 different countries over 15 years has instilled a desire and need in me to constantly reinvent. Now that I’ve been in the Bay area for nearly 5 years, I reflect on my past experiences to prompt myself to think outside of the box in terms of developing my career and following my passions. It’s easy to become “stuck” when you are in the same place for a while, and ever so important to remember that anything is possible. I liken it to when I used to work as an interior designer. If I was stuck with how to make a floor plan work, I would turn the drawing upside down and look at the same plan from an entirely different perspective. It always worked.

    • diannejacob says

      I love that example about the interior design! You have come a long way in your new career here in the US, Lynda: A very professional blog, stories published for NPR, and books on the horizon.

    • diannejacob says

      Oh my, you’re all alone as a blogger in rural Burgundy? Somehow I don’t feel too badly for you, Lynn.

      So far I have no workshops coming up in France. It would be fun to work on that, though. I did one years ago in the Lot. Only 1 student came, a chef from India, and we did our workshops zooming around in an ancient Citroen while sightseeing.

  15. says

    Your posts are always inspiring. I’m Italian, we’re still far from the flexible career idea, but we’re getting slowly there, also as an answer to the crisis.
    I was a marketing student, then I worked in marketing to promote post graduation courses, then as an event planner and employee for an association…
    Now I am a cooking class instructor, a recipe developer, a full time foodblogger and hopefully a foodwriter…
    I took the chance, and instead of searching for another job when my contract ended, I embarked on this adventure, and I am happier then ever.

    I’m reading your book for the third time now, every time it’s a resource of motivation and inspiration, thank you, I have to thank you too for this new career! :)

    What about Italy for a day-long class?

    • diannejacob says

      Good for you, Juls, for taking the leap. I hope it works out for you. YOur food and wine tours in Tuscany look fantastic.

      I am happier than ever as well. I think in my case it has to do with age. Apparently people get happier as they get older! One of the benefits to compensate for looking in the mirror, I suppose.

      Italy for a day long class? Si si si!

  16. says

    My curiosity has led me down an ever-morphing path and I was lucky enough to take a class of Dianne’s here in Berkeley just as I was starting to add food writing to my cultural explorations. Her encouragement and wisdom have been invaluable. I see my process not so much as a reinvention but as linking past experience (as a sign language interpreter, educator, author and actress) with current passions. After blogging and writing articles for magazines and websites about the intersection of food and culture, I found myself wanting to show people the impact that culture can have and so started adding videos to some posts . Who knows where this will lead?

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Anna! Doing video will lead to good things for you. It is in so much demand. I am still a written word-based person, so I admire that you have taken this next leap. Also, your authoring in another field has prepared you for authoring in the field of food writing — how convenient is that?

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m thrilled by all your successes.

  17. Nancy in Paris says

    Hi Diane,
    The Food Writing enthusiasts of France would love you to come here and do a workshop. There’s alread Lynn (above) and me.!.. And I’m sure we could round up plenty more :-)

    Alternatively, I may be back “home” in the Bay Area this summer (August.) Will you be teaching any classes/workshop there at that time?
    I have to tell you that your wonderful book got me started down this path.. Thank you for writing it!
    Kind regards, Nancy

  18. says

    I had to refresh the page 2 times to view this page for some reason, however, the information here was worth the wait.Now I am a cooking class instructor beats by dre cheap , a recipe developer, a full time foodblogger and hopefully a foodwriter’85
    I took the chance, and instead of searching for another job when my contract ended, I embarked on this adventure, and I am happier then ever.

    • diannejacob says

      Wonderful, Kandy. Me too. Now if we could just figure out how to make decent money while being happier than ever at these new careers, we’d have it all, eh?

  19. says

    Deciding what I want to be when I grow up is still an unanswered question. I’ve been a cashier, admin. assistant, staff nurse, nurse manager, stay-at-home mom, clinical coordinator, corporate executive, entrepreneur, columnist and blogger. David Leite says we should refer to ourselves as “bloggists”. I think a bloggist is a grown up blogger. As far as my next reinvention, I’m excited about the possibilities!

    Dianne, I would love to get you to the Tampa Bay area. How do we make that happen?

    • diannejacob says

      Quite a career, Jackie. I hope the next reinvention has something to do with writing. I have not heard the term “bloggist.” It sounds like “typist” to me! I’m sure that wasn’t what he meant.

      Re coming to Florida, please send an email to me: and we can discuss.

  20. says

    Thanks for featuring my post on your site! I was one of the lucky bloggers who spent the day writing and working with Dianne in San Diego and it was such a great experience. Writing conferences – for me at least – don’t offer the same one-on-one attention as these smaller workshops, so I appreciate you coming to SD for the day to write (and eat!) with us.

    As for reinventing myself … I went from programmer to tech/marketing writer to food blogger – but always, always writing (you should see some of my old help comments buried in code!).

    • diannejacob says

      It was my pleasure. I agree about the conferences. Usually it’s me on a panel with other people, and there is not enough actual interaction with the audience, let alone doing writing exercises and getting feedback.

      You were a programmer?! Gosh. I bet you were popular with all those geeky guys. I have worked with them and married a very handsome one.

  21. says

    That is my living room, cleaner than it has ever been for a group of lovely food-writers. Thank you, Dianne, for a life-changing day, not an adjective I use lightly. best, Liz

    • diannejacob says

      Oh Liz, you are too much! Thank you for making it possible in such a gracious and effortless manner. I loved getting to know you and Larry.


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