When one thinks of what it might be like to live the life of a writer, several things of course come to mind: freedom to travel, notoriety, a sharp brain through old-age, and the joy inherent in living a creative life — being the most obvious. This article deals with the discovery phase, giving an overview of what we find when we ask, “What is it like to live the life of a writer?”
Three main ideas surface: 1) the need for flexibility in a number of areas, 2) background requirements on which you draw every day, and 3) the daily grind.
The message is clear: if you don’t have a lot of flexibility in your life or your personality don’t try to be a full-time writer. The first thing you need to be flexible on is your source of income – everyone agrees it is helpful if you have an alternative source that meets your daily needs, that you can draw on for a number of years as you get your writing business going. You also need to be flexible about what you write, remember you are writing for a public and also for your editor. A lot of other people will have their fingers in your finished products. The final flexibility that you need with your self. Hold yourself to the highest standards and you’ll always be somewhat frustrated, not high enough and your work may be sloppy or not progress in skill. There will be some days you write well, and some days you trash everything, be kind to yourself and know these are just part of the process.
In order to write well you have to read a lot, almost everyone who was ever written on writing agrees to that. But in today’s web-based world it is also makes sense that what you read covers a wide variety of content areas. All the researchers have studied mastery, whether it be at playing chess, painting, or any worthwhile activity, agree that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become really good at anything. That’s equal to three hours a day, seven days a week, for 10 years. Writing is a very competitive field, although with web-based publishing much easier to break into than it used to be. Nevertheless, only those who have been willing to put in those 10,000 hours will likely rise to the top. Finally you need to be able to organize your thoughts in order to be a good writer. A lot of this goes on a subconscious. As you interview, research your topic, take pictures, etc. in preparation for your writing your subconscious mind will help you sort and to classify so that when you put it all together in an article it makes sense.
Finally you have to be willing to take writing on as “the daily grind.” With self-publishing writing has become a multifaceted business. As with any business there are options, and each will have a financial outcome attached. Recently it has become evident that many authors are making more money on Amazon with Kindle, then they used to make with royalties and publishers. The world of writing and the world of publishing are so closely connected that today a writer more than likely also needs to take on the publishing role.
So how does all of this add up to the life of writer? If you work it properly, as you keep your mind-set on the lifestyle you want to live, you may just end up like Dennison Berwick who travels the world in his 32 foot yacht home that he calls the Kuan Yin. He travels the world, writes about his journeys and uses his blog and website to promote his books. Where ever you go, or what path you follow, you’ll use that flexibility, background and strong habits that you develop now to carry you through.
E. Alana James, Ed.D. facilitates life reinventing itself! http://www.reinventinglife.org is her webhome, and there you will find resources for women who want to take on new aspects to life – both personal and professions. Dr. James writes on the use of action research in education, business, and daily life as a means to move consistently forward through challenges and on to the lives and work we truly desire. Her newest book: Action research for business, non profits and public administration: A tool for complex times will be published by Sage in 2011.