06 July

Finishing Your Book - Your Second Full Time Job...

 Writing all alone at night, as your second full time job.

Question: How long would you last at your day job if you only came into work when you felt like it?

Answer: If you're reading this article now because you tried that yesterday, and today you're unemployed, well, there ya go.

A Tidbit of Reality: Nothing involving value — and by value I mean quality of work, reputation, revenue — is done by happenstance. Like... never.

You say, "But B. J., I have to work at my day job, so I don't end up in a cardboard box panhandling on 3rd."

I say, "So true. But what do you do that truly benefits your life when you're NOT at your day job? And those empty-calorie activities like playing video games, watching TV or clubbing doesn't count."

Crickets, gathering around us, say, "Chirping..."

"Right. So what was your question, again?" 

Don't get me wrong. Having a part-time hobby has a huge benefit to a person's quality of life, but if you plan on completing a major project that will be put out into society to augment their quality of life, your reputation and net worth, dabbling at it only when there's a snow storm or when your Aunt Mable loans you her creepy lakeside mansion won't cut it. 

In the former, you end up getting into a snowball fight with your neighbors. They invite you over for drinks post snow flaky fun, and after four Manhattans you slur, "Wad būk?"

In the latter, flies hibernating in the walls come to life as soon as you light the fireplace. They swarm around your head. You run screaming from the mansion, trip over a log, fall into the lake, and drown. Another writer far more serious than your deceased self witnesses your ghostly image, and with focused, steely determination writes a Gothic novel entitled, The Ghost on Missed Chances Lake, that when finished, and published, wins a Pulitzer Prize, and stays on the New York Times Best Seller list for 41,000 straight weeks, making so much dough that the lauded scribe, who isn't you, actually feels sorry for J. K. Rowling.

The time-tested adage, "Your muse finds you working" still tests positive today. 

The fact is, you simply will not write well until you write consistently. 

That 1/4 finished manuscript of yours will never become an actual book until you look at writing as your second full time job. You know, the moonlight gig you willingly take on for no cash and no fame... similar to that security guard job you passed over last year for no real money, far less fame, a skin rash from the uniform, and more income taxes paid... still with no finished book at the end.

If you're serious about becoming a novelist or non-fiction writer, you need to alter your mindset, you know, that psychological aspect of writing I keep harping on, and on, about. Your writing sessions have to be seen as your moonlight job that you willingly take on because you see the Big Picture — the real benefits of finishing that book — personal satisfaction, a gift to society, a lauded career, evergreen income.

You WILL have to sit down and write when,

  • You're too tired.
  • You're not feeling well.
  • When all your friends are going out and having fun, without you.

And that drudgery WILL have to keep on keeping on until you write the words, The End, and not one word before.

You WILL experience, 

  • Loneliness.
  • Frustration.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Mental Exhaustion.

But you WILL keep on, keeping on, until you write the words, The End, and not one word before.

You WILL accept that those feelings come with the job, and no amount of fame, money or multitude of finished books will make those feelings completely go away.

You ask, "So, why am I writing if all I get are those bad feelings?"

I say, "Because you're an artist. You have something to give to humanity. You endure because the personal satisfaction of birthing art and sending it out to the world supersedes all else, all the hard work, exhaustion, and all those lonely times. The work is greater than you. That's why."

Crickets crawl in closer, happily chirping.

HOMEWORK: Tonight, think long and hard about altering your mindset from a hobbyist to a person with a second full time job. Take your brain from happenstance writer to serious wordsmith, from once-in-a-while plot pondering to 24/7 sub-conscious and conscious book rumination. 

This is not only a mindset shift but a style of life change, peeps, and it's forever. You have to visualize yourself being serious with this métier in order to be serious with this métier.

Become steely-eyed. Keep your eyes on that publishing prize. Trade in that juvenile mindset for an adult take on what is really needed to be a professional writer. There is no going halfway in this career. Ask any accomplished writer.

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