Can I (you) be a writer? And, how to be a writer.
I quit my job in 2016. After fifteen years, I’d had enough corporate life. But, I also felt if I stayed on the job longer, I’d regret it, I’d regret not trying to do something creative, something that might have a larger impact than a 9- to 5. I decided I’d have two focuses after I quit. One would be investing, which would pay the bills. Second, would be writing, which I had tried—unsuccessfully—to do while working.
My last day of work was a Friday. I took the weekend off, like normal, with the intention of working 40-hour weeks—starting Monday—on my new areas of focus. I put in 8-hour days on Monday and Tuesday and crashed by Wednesday morning. I just wasn’t capable—at that point, or now—of putting in 4-hour days of writing. This raised the question: could I be a writer? And, if I could: how could I be a writer?
To answer the first question, I started meticulously tracking my time. How we spend time can be the best indicator of priorities, but as days and weeks blur together, we often lose track of where time is going. Once I started tracking time, it didn’t look good for writing, because not only was I spending very little time writing, I wasn’t consistent in allocating that time across days. In 2017, I spent 184 hours (3.5 hours/week) writing. I wasn’t consistent in when, or for how long I wrote. I had 10-hour weeks and lots of weeks that were 0s. During weeks I wrote less, I beat myself up over it: you quit your job to do this and you’re not even spending time on it. Inner criticism made it harder to feel motivated to write.
In 2018, my writing dropped to 127 hours. But, I kept at it. And, I got more consistent, writing for a few minutes most days, which helped keep my train of thought.
In 2019, I wrote for 297 hours. Consistency was starting to pay off, but I also took another step, which made me feel like a writer. I finished something. I wrote a short story. It was only three pages, I don’t think it was particularly good, but I finished. And, for the first time, I felt like a writer.
Now, I consistently write 8.5 hours a week. By tracking time, I’ve found an equilibrium where I write enough to progress toward my goals—and feel good about my productivity—but not so much that I burn out.
So, if you’re wondering, can I be a writer? Yes, you can!
How may be as simple as one step: writing. For me there were two more steps: 1) writing consistently—with the help of time tracking—and 2) finishing something.
Those three steps allowed me to not only feel confident about being a writer, but have taken me—will take me in a few days—from writer to self-published author.
If you want to be a writer/author, hopefully those three steps will help. And, if you want to track your time—like I do—subscribe to the site and I’ll email you the password to download my Excel “Time Tracker.” You’ll also be able to download a PDF of the beginning of my upcoming cli-fi novel: Insecticide.