I have some kind of selective memory disease. That or a piss poor excuse for a long term memory. Either way, unless I write shit down, it doesn’t get remembered. I used to journal, I stopped when I went to university… too busy studying studiously. Ahem. But this journey into full-time writing is not something I want to forget. So here are the 8 lessons I’ve learned after three months full-time writing.
Lesson 1 – Lonely is Relative
I assumed – having spent eight long years as a corporate slave – that I would be lonely when I left a building filled with 10,000 people every day. I mean, being a writer is tantamount to the same four walls and staring at a blank screen talking to invisible people for a living. If that didn’t get me banged up in an institution, I’d have bagged myself a role in Hollywood’s next horror flick.
But here’s the thing. I’m FAR too busy to get lonely.
- Choose a local coffee shop. Go there and work at least once a week
- Start a new sport (don’t raise that eyebrow at me. Writer’s spread is a real thing, it will mutilate your ass cheeks and cellulite the crap outta your thighs). Ideally start a team sport or at least one where you train with real, squishy humans. I started Tae Kwon Do.
Lesson 2 – Work is Shit, Writing is Fun
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a long time in a corporate nightmare dreaming about getting out. You conditioned your brain to hate work because the act of hating it drove you on harder and faster to leave. But here’s the thing. That kinda thinking wires your brain. It cements in a nice thick myelin sheath of a mindset that ‘work is shit.’
So when you finally leave your job and write full-time, as, you know… your JOB… it messes with your head.
I got blocked. HARD. I thought I had to write for others, write what was expected of me. I thought I had to write as a job.
What a load of bollocks. YOU GUYS, I DON’T HAVE A JOB. I tell lies that sound like the truth, and fuck about with words all day long. Don’t tell me that’s a job. It’s playing, it’s fun. It’s living the fucking dream.
It just took me a minute to realize it.
Lesson 3 – Time is Actually Money
This was a helluva revelation.
We’ve all heard old adage ‘time is money’, but I don’t think I (or any of us for that matter) are really aware of what it means until every second counts. When you’re in a day job, if you have an off day, if you go for a coffee, you’re still going to bring home the same paycheck. Not so much when you’re self-employed. Sure, I have some passive income, but I still need to do freelance work until the passive income grows large enough it covers all my bills. Until then, every second my ass is out of the writing seat I’m hemorrhaging money faster than I can but, but, but, my accountant.
What’s the solution?
There are so many ways to skin a cat.
Create multiple streams of income like your life depends on it.
And split your working day. It sounds terrifying, but after six weeks of no words and only working on freelance work, something had to break. So after some extremely valuable advice, I cut my working day in half (even though I’m not sure I can afford to).
Have faith. Let the universe know you believe you can make the money from your words, and the money will come.
Lesson 4 – Decision Fatigue is Real
I understand why Obama went into the White House saying he never wanted to choose clothes or what he was eating. Decision fatigue is a real thing. Trying to choose what to eat has led me to just not eat. I’m quite literally that exhausted by the end of the day. Choosing a uniform for clothes no longer seems like a silly idea. The fewer decisions I have to make outside of business and creative ones, the better.
Anyone have the whole:
“What do you want for dinner?”
“Dunno, what do you want?”
“Dunno, what do…”
Work for yourself and you’ll make a shit load of decisions everyday which means the simple ones suddenly become indescribably difficult.
Automate as much as you can. Choose a set of clothes for the week days and stick to them. Choose one coffee shop and always go there.
Lesson 6 – Expect a Dip
I didn’t expect a dip. I thought I’d leave my job and suddenly have all this miraculous time in which I’d smash the living daylights out of novels and all things wordery. It didn’t happen that way.
In fact, what proceeded to happen is one of the worst word-droughts I’ve ever experienced. Truly. I was more barren than Death Valley in a heat wave. It was bad.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that just because you get what you want, doesn’t mean there won’t be a transition. I transitioned hard. I think I needed to go through a process of mental healing. I mean, guys… I’d spent every day crying in trees for fucks sake. You don’t miraculously wake up fixed just because you’re out of a toxic environment.
Sure, some people transition immediately. But some people are also assholes… You know who you are you delightful beasts, you. Most of us need time to heal.
Honestly, I think my heart left months prior, but my head – well, it’s slow as fuck and took a while to catch up.
I have no tips. Only the wise words from a mentor:
“The first year is a rollercoaster. Grip hard.”
Lesson 7 – Expect Random Moments of Joy
I’m sat in Costco as I write this. Shoveling a tasty jacket potato in my belly and waiting for my car tyres to be changed. It’s the middle of the day, and no one is going to demand I do overtime to make up for this. I’m also listening to some banging tunes. But above all of that, I’m trying not to collapse on the floor and sob with joy.
Joy is real, people. I took a break from it for a while there. But believe me, it’s the most overwhelmingly delightful little bit of fuckery I’ve ever experienced. It’s like bubbles and electricity and glittery lavender sprinkled on unicorn cupcakes.
It’s also a tricky little bastard because it pops up at the most inopportune moments. Usually when I’m in obscenely public places, like the supermarket immediately after school when every local mum possible is in the vicinity. Or, you know, in Costco surrounded by people trying to eat their food while some hysterical lesbian curls into a ball on the floor and weeps with sheer joy.
I think I’ve fallen in love with joy. It’s the most wonderful thing in the world. It really exists and I want you all to experience it and hold it in your hands and cuddle it for dear life.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, no matter how far you are in your journey, LISTEN…
You can make it. You will. Never ever give up.
Lesson 8 – Rebel
This one came from the lovely JA Clement. I suffer with imposter syndrome and doubt. Something I’m sure you all do too. But she said something that hit home.
If you’re not aware of Gretchin Rubin’s four tendencies, she wrote a book about personality types. I’m a rebel. Obviously.
Which essentially means, no one (including myself) can tell me anything. I’ve always had this innate impulse to do the complete opposite of what someone tells me.
So, Ms. Clement said, why was I listening to imposter syndrome?
Can you hear my mind exploding?
Listening to imposter syndrome stops today. It’s the big birdie shaped fuck you for Mr. Imposter.
I’m out. Game over.
I hit a home run of fuck yous.
If I don’t listen to myself, then there’s shit all chance I’m listening to Mr. Imposter syndrome.
So there you have it. The first 8 lessons I’ve learned being full time. I’ll post again when I hit 6 months.
I’d love to hear what lessons you’ve learned on your journey to your dreams.
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