My Year Of Writing: A Reality Check

I’m an infant in the world of publications and story-telling. Young in more ways than one, really. Still small in the world of adulthood and smaller still in that of writers. In just over a year now, I’ve uprooted, reevaluated, reset and reorganized everything – unfortunately for me, in that order.

Looking back, I’m sure that those first few months were direct bullet-points from a ‘what-not-to-do’ list – A verbatim screw up impending foreshadowed from every lifestyle post in existence. So for the sake of all those itching to dive without looking as I did, or even just for the sake of my own reminiscing, here’s the reality of my poorly not planned foray into the world of writing and how you can hopefully bypass my blunders.

The Reality of Uprooting
I’d taken a step that many would applaud, balk at and ultimately praise me as being bold to my face while secretly, and realistically set bets as to when this choice would slap me silly.
I’d quit a job that demanded sixty hours of my life per week so I could pursue writing, but that job had also cushioned that same life financially. With only this vague desire to write still damp with the remnants of a recent dip into the waters of vet school, and nothing but a laptop and a story, I had torn from a system that was definite and comfortable. Peeling away from that job was both liberating and terrifying. The step I had missed here was a hefty one, though.  

Starting out then, there’d been no expectations because I hadn’t made a plan. I hadn’t set goals or outlined a course of action. I hadn’t given myself a fall-back or ensured for an easy transition. There was a cliff that I’d treated like a step and I fell. Uprooting was ripping out not the roots of weeds, but those of a cultivated garden and there would be scary months of being frugal and second guessing myself – a lot of it. Looking back, it may have been wiser to have paced myself; taken baby steps to ensure I would be financially safe, or had the promise of publication under my belt, but at the same time, I definitely don’t regret that leap. That first uprooting was necessary. Scary, but necessary. I wouldn’t have had the same determination I had if I’d waited. I had procrastinated and hesitated for years and this was my first real step towards where I am now, and I can’t regret that fall, regardless of the uncertainty and doubt it came with.

The Reality of Reevaluating & Resetting
So because of that lack of initial prep, I would be smacked with the reality of what I had done only a month following that substantial full-time job resignation. There would be the demand to rethink my strategy and create a plan to immediately set in motion now that I finally thought of the concept of ‘planning.’ Bills that I’d never given a second glance to took on a new life of their own with the realization of the absence of bi-weekly direct deposits being magically added to my bank account.

Forced to consider the ramifications of my leap of faith was a serious kick in the shins. I had risked a lot. And now those risks wouldn’t just be in theory, but take on a practical sense of demanding that life resume as it had without the luxury of that past routine.
So I did reevaluate. First, I looked again at my finances and created a budget. Secondly, I researched. I found as many reputable writing mills as possible and began the tedious and lengthy process of applying. I reached out to as many blogs, online magazines, and fresh start-ups as I could and aimed to get as many articles under my belt as possible.

My advice?

Start with this: Get yourself familiar with the ins and outs of what it really takes to create a sustainable writing career BEFORE leaping. If you’re making any big change in your career path, then the place to always start is in learning as much as possible. I may not regret my lack of a plan fully, but I do regret my lack of knowledge completely.

The Reality of Reorganizing
Following my internal panic attack over a lack of income and no real promise of success behind this new venture, I needed some serious reorganizing. Pretty much of everything. My time, routine, priorities and most surprising to me, my self-confidence.

It would take months to slowly overhaul this life that was brand new and initially so ill-designed and not thought-out.

Over that first year, I’d learn that there are many wonderful advantages to being your own boss: the artistic director of your own life. There’s the freedom of flexible hours, the independent and untethered pursuit of information, outlets, and work itself, and the never-ending luxury of puppy snuggles mid work day. But I’d also come to understand through necessity that the journey of the self-employed starts with dedication, heaps of luck, ambition and an almost fool-hearted desire based off nothing more than a dream.

To make such a big change demanded that I reconfigure the most natural aspects of my day to day life to encourage and demand order in what seemed to initially be such an unorganized endeavor. The idea of a writing routine was something of a unicorn to my sporadic approach and my own confidence would turn out to be my biggest enemy and challenge to nailing down progress.

Advice?

Reorganizing will never be an over-night experience. You’ll always need to feel it out and there are sure to be challenges and mistakes along the way. I thought it would be easy to submerge myself in the project that was my book, but it wasn’t. I’d assumed that because it had played such a vital role in my resignation that it would just be a natural immersion – the natural next step.

Actions don’t become a habit without dedication, routine and practice, though.

That was an important lesson. One of the most important. Don’t underestimate the value of a routine and schedule. Be strict and treat any new endeavor as a true job, one in which you work when you don’t want to, and stick to something on days when it’s easier to say ‘tomorrow.’ It sounds so simple, so basic, but trust me – It’s a lesson easier imagined than acted upon and you need to remain vigilant and motivated. With the allure of freedom and this new flexibility, prepare to be more tempted by procrastination than ever before and fight it with a well thought out timetable and routine written in stone. Don’t assume you’ll just ‘do it’, ensure you will with this mandatory step. Get a planner, nail down a routine, set specific days and time slots where you only work and don’t deviate.

It was honestly the hardest part of this whole process and still proves to be a challenge on certain days, but having the mind to recognize that it is a thing in itself is a great place to start and one that I hadn’t kept in mind at the onset of my own journey.

~~~

That said, I’m so happy about where I am now. It may have been one long, complicated and challenging journey rigged with poor decisions and misguided expectations, but it’s also been one of growth and passion. The way I got here may not have been very pretty but I know that I’ve finally found my footing and can confidently write this with the clarity of someone who can recognize the trials and realities of what I opted to do almost two years ago now.

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