Beginning the Writing Journey
Writing is hard. I've decided to try to do it full-time. Here are the helpful things I've learned so far. 8/12/18.
I’m Jacob. I’m 21 and I want to be a writer.
But you’re a University dropout and a gambling addict!
True, I am a university dropout and I was a gambling addict. But here’s the fantastic thing about life: anyone can do anything they want whenever they want!
Whaaaaaat? Surely that can’t be true!
Well, it is. Deal with it. And I’ve decided to forego almost three years of post-secondary mathematics education to pursue writing. It’ll be tough, I know, but I’ve discovered some important information along my journey so far that will be helpful to anyone who wants to become a writer.
Whether you want to write flash-fiction or a full novel, here are the things that I’ve done so far, which I’ve found invaluably helpful in the writing process:
1. I watched a lot of videos
I mean a lot of videos. Jenna Moreci, Vivien Reis, and Ellen Brock became my best friends when I was learning what this writing thing was all about. Check out their YouTube channels – they have everything an aspiring writer needs to get started.
I researched everything from how to write facial description to how to market your book. I learned about filter words, the three-act plot structure, and why I should include a diverse cast of characters in all my books (I’ll appeal to a wider audience and therefore sell more books. I like that).
No doubt, I’ll continue watching their videos as I work through my short stories and debut novel, The Injection Game. Learning is a constant process. Although, being readers, I’m sure you guys know that already!
2. I organized my life
Before I started writing I would go to bed at 3:00 A.M. and was lucky if I woke up before noon. I had no discernible goals; I was just wandering through life blindfolded, smashing into trees and tripping up every five steps.
My disorganization had to stop.
I decided to test a few different methods of tracking goals and organizing my time to see which was best. At first, I tried rigidly scheduling my time for every activity. Two hours for this, then half an hour for that, etc. I didn’t like that method because I found that once I became engaged in an activity, it felt strange forcing myself to stop it and move on to something else.
Next, I tried writing down all the things I wanted to get done for the day in a notebook – then I would set out to complete those activities. This method was better than the “rigid scheduling,” but I felt it didn’t have enough foresight. It was difficult to set goals further than a couple days ahead because I was too focused on getting all these microtasks completed for the day.
Eventually I settled on a calendar system, where I could set goals well into the future and easily move them around if I wished. With my new organization system and a little motivation, I did a complete 180 with my work-ethic and productivity!
3. I mentally prepared myself
Writing a novel is a difficult process. Writing anything is a difficult process. In fact, setting your own work hours is difficult, too. So is working in a field where you’re exposed to an onslaught of criticism every day.
If I wanted to be a full-time writer, I had to prepare myself to face all those challenges.
Apart from the writing videos I watch, I also consume a lot of motivational videos. I recognized that cultivating a strong, healthy, driven mindset would be crucial to my success.
Through watching these motivational videos, I gained self-confidence and began combatting my social anxiety. I also stopped wasting time – I’m better at catching myself when I get off track and check my social media or goof off.
Having less leisure time is difficult, especially when you formerly had a lot of it, but is ultimately necessary to achieve your dreams.
For some kick-ass motivation, check out Gary “Vee” Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel and a channel called Goalcast.
4. I made time to write
Lastly, I deliberately changed my schedule so that I would have more than enough time each week to write. Before realizing that my vocation was to become a writer, I worked full-time as an HVAC technician; the entry-level job I was at since starting my first round of University education.
When I was a full-time technician, I would work anywhere from 40-50 hours a week. It was great money, especially knowing that I needed to save up for my next attempt at University, but I knew I needed to make a sacrifice to focus on my writing. A couple weeks ago, I told my employer that I could only work part-time on weekends indefinitely, giving me the week to work on my writing.
I’m not saying that you should quit your job or limit your hours to pursue your passion like I did. Whatever your passion is, though, ensure that you make adequate time to work on it. Even if you work a full-time job from 9-5 Monday through Friday, you still have a solid five or six hours a night you can spend on your passion.
Yes, you’ll need to give up leisure time. That’s just what it takes. If you’re passionate enough, the sacrifice shouldn’t even be too difficult.
There you have it, my first blog post. Yay!
Make sure to check in from time to time – I’ll update you as I undergo the writing journey and I’ll be posting some articles featuring helpful writing advice too!