Nurturing a Fledgling Writing Career While Keeping a Full-Time Job

My Dream Beckons

I have always been a writer.  Even in the first grade I scribbled out products of my fertile imagination on the wide-ruled tablet paper we were supposed to be practicing our letters on.  Later in life, when my career path took a direction that afforded little time for writing, worlds and characters and intriguing plots continued to burgeon within me.  My imagination never shut down and the stories just wouldn’t go away.  Finally in 2002 I decided to follow my dream and become a serious writer.  But—and this is a mighty BIG but!—I needed to keep my day job.  Food and a home and new clothes once in a while are pretty nice; and one never knows when life is going to throw a big nasty monkey wrench into an otherwise well-ordered routine.

My dream stood before me, a shining beacon soaring high above the depths of my humdrum life.  Brimming with enthusiasm and resolve, I gave it my all and for the first four years managed quite well.  I’d come home, take a walk, and then settle into my den and spend the rest of the evening writing.  I seemed to get my second wind around 8:30 in the evening.  That surge of energy kept me going until well past midnight and I pounded out two novels and part of a third.  After four years, however, 8:30 found me ready to crawl into bed.  Too many things coming at me at once left me nonfunctional and just sort of fibrillating in my chair.  As a computer programmer, I had already spent eight to ten hours hunched over a keyboard; and tight deadlines raise the stress level which, in turn, drains energy.  Even on those evenings I did feel like writing the ideas that flowed so well during the day simply evaporated the minute my manuscript appeared on the screen.  And living in an area blessed with lots of sunshine, fresh air, and ready access to myriad recreational opportunities didn’t exactly propel me to the keyboard on a beautiful summer evening.  Besides, this business of writing encompasses more than simply turning out novels; an author has to network and market as well.  Just looking at the entire package all at once overwhelmed me.  Meanwhile, on the far horizon, aloof and unattainable, my dream shrouded itself in shadow.  Its cries for realization grew fainter in the gathering gloom. . .

Shadowed Goal

OK, that’s a bit melodramatic.  But I still wanted to write and yet most evenings I did nothing.  How could I reenergize and get motivated again?

We’ve all heard the expression, “If wishes were horses, beggars could ride.”  Daydreams might produce the plot for a best seller, but they don’t actually write it.  Wishing alone won’t make it happen–I think we all know this.  But when you come home tired after a long day at work, it’s too easy to sink into a comfortable chair in front of the TV and give yourself the night off.  For me, however, the moment of truth had arrived.  I asked myself:  “How bad—really—do you want this?  Bad enough to put in the work and effort necessary to make it happen?  Bad enough to make some sacrifices?”  A few years ago I had the ambition, but somewhere along the way lost sight of the mission.  However, one of Ben Francia’s blog posts puts it very well:  The distance between your dreams and reality is called Action.  Several writers’ blogs I have visited offer basically the same advice:  Write something every day.

It’s sound advice.  Granted, there are evenings I am stressed out and, whether it be taking a drive, tearing down the bike path, or simply sitting and staring at the walls, I need that break to let my brain cool off.  You have to listen to your body, too.  Excessive fatigue like I experienced a few months ago may signal a medical issue.  Fortunately mine proved minor, and since my diagnosis and treatment I’ve regained enough energy to resume attaining my dream.  I’ve found a happy medium again:  A walk or bicycle ride after work followed by a hot shower and then at least a couple of hours of writing.  Ideas come as my fingers move, and even if I tear it all apart the following day I’ve planted seeds that blossom into new ideas.  Many a night I find myself “on a roll” and accomplishing more than I thought possible in just a few hours.  Another thing I’ve learned is to focus on one task at a time.  As noted earlier, this business has several, but if I’m working on a novel, for example, and stewing over all of the other things that need doing I don’t really get anything done.

Once again my goal is in view—and now there’s a road leading to it!

On My Way

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