How to business

No one cares about your personal journey.

People are indifferent to the company vision. They don’t give a flaming heck about the brand story. We’re people too, and we care about contrived corporate mission statements as much as anyone else.

Most people don’t care how a tech brand started, or how the gadgetry works inside. They just want a phone. It makes life better. Faster, and prettier. Maybe it makes their jobs and lives easier. It just delivers results that people like.

Be in the business of pleasing people. Not with smiles and platitudes, but by producing the things they like. They’ll buy those things, just like you do. You pay for things you like. Things that mean something to you; that please you.

Stop telling people how great you are, and let your customers speak for you. Be useful. Deliver more value than people can handle. Be of service to them.

So that’s the customer taken care of, and the customer is always right. What do you get out of it? You get the C word. You get cash.

Cash is this giant dirty secret. People pretend that they’re never really out to make it. Like it shouldn’t be talked about in polite conversation, and that money isn’t our breath and lifeblood, and what makes the world go round.

But I’m a writer, of course. I work in the arts, and such talk should be beneath me. Well, I like to not starve. I like a home to live in. I like to grow my business, to write more books, to make readers happy and grow my business some more. There’s no special funding, and I don’t deal in hope. I make money.

When I got my first job, in a supermarket, they asked us new recruits why we wanted it. Other people said they wanted to be on board and that they were people people, and that they just wanted to make a difference and help. I said I wanted the money. The interviewers were horrified, and I still got the job. I worked hard and treated every customer like a five-star guest, but I never wanted to stay in that job. I wanted to write stories. I wanted people to really enjoy what I wrote, so much so that I could do it full-time.

I wanted to go into business, and Kindle arrived at the perfect time. It took a few years of trial and error, but it happened. I don’t know exactly how a Kindle works; I just know that I enjoy using it. It’s a tool for my education, and my entertainment. It’s how I published myself and make a living.

No one cares about the corporate vision. A business earns cash, or it doesn’t. It produces things that people like and need, or it doesn’t.

The next time you take a job interview, or if you go into business for yourself, just cut straight through all the questions to what actually counts. Does this business serve people, and give them good results? Does it make more cash than it spends? How could you really improve things, for your customers and for your growth?

Maybe you don’t get the job. That’ll tell you the job was a waste of your time. If money and sales are dirty words to them, they’re allergic to running a business. That job was a waste of your time.

If that seems aggressive or shallow, there’s an issue in facing the truth. A business makes money. That’s what it’s there to do. Customers buy what they like or need, and that’s why they come to your door. It’s not ugly; it’s a transaction. The same way you pay for things yourself. Does it hurt your own feelings, to know that the people you buy from want your money for themselves? Do you think they hoard it, and don’t spend it on what they need too?

If a business isn’t growing, it isn’t making enough money. If it isn’t making money, it’s not giving paying customers what they really want.

You don’t need to choose between passion and profit. You can choose both. Love what you do, love the art and the craft of it, and make a livelihood from the money that the market deems your efforts to be worth.

 

If you’re looking for a new read on that Kindle, or on your shiny new phone, click here and try a free sample of my sci-fi action books in the Amazon store. 

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Debunking writer’s block

Ah, humans. We can complicate simple things to the point of insanity. Being crazy talking monkeys with obscenely large brains, maybe that’s kind of our thing.

But maybe writer’s block isn’t a thing. Maybe it’s just a lack of ideas going in. Perhaps our monkey minds are just hungry for art and new things.

I don’t like to believe in the idea of writer’s block, because it feels like an indulgent myth. When my livelihood depends on writing every day, and writing the best stuff I can, being the boy who cried “writer’s block!” seems like a luxury I can’t afford.

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes it’s a struggle. Fresh ideas and frantic typing aren’t always forthcoming. But maybe we’re missing out a bit of key thinking around the whole topic of creative block: the idea of the simple machine.

We’re probably all familiar with the basic concept of a machine. It’s input, process, output. Familiar in the realms of computing, tech and production lines, but maybe less applicable in the creative world. Or is it?

We could think of our bodies as the Soft Machine. We need all manner of fuels, inputs, nutrients and lubricants to keep us thinking, talking and moving around. All those processes we’re going through, constantly: respiration, digestion, metabolism, thought. It’s the same principle: input, process, output. Calories, respiration, life. Can’t we think of our creative mind in the same way?

The brain obeys this machine principle, and the mind is a process of the brain. As well as food and water, the brain needs information to keep us alive – like learning that if you walk off that cliff over there, you may end up slightly dead. Part of the brain’s many processes takes in novel experiences and valuable lessons, to build up our experience of the environment we need to survive in. To live an enjoyable life.

In terms of evolution, we’ve never had the speed and strength of the big cats, or spines or venom to keep us from being eaten. We’ve never had claws, fangs, camouflage or safety in vast herds. But what we do have is the greatest bio-software in existence. The brain’s squishy computer is our natural defence.

Our mind, our imagination, has so much massive processing power that we can simulate deadly situations and avoid them. We developed better outcomes for the tribe, by avoiding a dangerous territory or shaping a certain tool. And we passed that knowledge on, over thousands of years. Building and refining that knowledge constantly. Until, finally, we now live in comfortable multi-caves of our own making. There’s farmed food handy, in a storing-box that makes its own ice. There’s hot running water and wired lightning in the walls. Wheels and engines, and horseless carts. There’s a mystic web of runes and pictures, the whole damn history of our shared human experience, collected from the world and beamed right into this screen you’re reading. It’s magic; it’s better than magic. All a wizard can do is taser you with a stick.

Everything we’ve imagined and achieved has relied on prior information. Some kind of input for our brain to process and improve on, and produce a better output on the other side. Put simply, our brains are improvement machines. Improving is what humans do.

In some roundabout way, and ironically proving the point about human complication that I started with, the idea I’m getting at is this: our minds can’t produce fresh improved output without the input first. If there’s no ideas going into that mind machine to process, then we don’t have any output either. Without enough fuel going in to that creative engine in your head, your creative output might just be running on the last fumes. Stretch out that scenario over hours, days, weeks and months, and what we get is the myth of writer’s block.

Maybe it’s not a blockage, but an empty pipe. A creative fuel tank that we haven’t filled up with fresh ideas in weeks.

We aren’t tortured artists. We’re imagination monkeys. And we’re hungry.

So try some unknown fuels and flavours. New music, and unfamiliar experiences; untraveled locations and fresh ways of producing art. If you’ve never trawled the online galleries of digital artists, take a look at them. If you’d never thought to write fiction to the sound of film scores, give it a try. There aren’t any limitations or conventions any more. No one’s stopping you from taking any hybrid mix of input or inspiration you like. Try a new show, or a graphic novel. Try a videogame. Or just get drunk and dance to a hardcore medieval party mix, if it helps put you in that high-fantasy frame of mind. All just new ideas.

This is the greatest time in human history for creative people to take it all in and produce fresh, exciting new art. To claim a flimsy excuse like “writer’s block”, amid a whole damn world that’s bursting with ideas like never before, just seems like a terrible waste of great talent.

How about we move past the writer’s block myth, and just feed our starving minds with all the fresh creative calories they can take?

 

If you like these kinds of ideas, maybe you’ll like my Kindle ebooks too. Sci-fi, fantasy, gothicness and horror. They’re cheap n’ meaty, and I’m working on more.

“Just believe in yourself.”

….Come on.

Let’s not keep crippling our ambitions with that kind of magical thinking.

It takes no work whatsoever to just believe in ourselves. It’s lazy. It’s a feel-good shortcut around the fact that we’re terrible at something. And guess what? We’ll always be terrible at it, unless we face the truth and practise.

Forget you ever heard the words “just believe in yourself”. If you want to make anything of yourself, you need to work harder. You need to impress people with the concrete results you can produce. You need commitment, discipline and rigorous practise in your chosen trade. You need to know your tools.

We also need the right attitude. People won’t buy your books just because you’ve written them. Those books need to be competently written. They need to inform, or entertain, or both. You need basic ability with spelling, grammar and good pace. None of which will be perfect in your first few books.

No one knows this stuff instinctively – it takes repetition and a great deal of learning from your mistakes. Best of all if you can self-publish, and learn from negative reviews, and see those reviewers as teachers rather than haters.

There’s no shortage of self-belief in the world. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But if that’s all you’ve got, don’t expect to be successful at anything. Why? Because there’s nothing easier than just believing in yourself. Who couldn’t do that? There’s no effort or sacrifice involved whatsoever. There’s no practise or rigour. There’s no commitment.

Instead of just believing in ourselves, and waiting for the world to finally recognise our innate genius (and we’d be waiting a long time for something like that)… No. Just no. We need to stop telling ourselves that shit.

Stop telling yourself things. Ask questions of yourself instead. Was that the best I could do? What do readers want? Why should people pay their hard-earned money for my writing? What makes a bestseller sell? Since people absolutely judge books by their covers, because we’re all busy people and that’s what book covers are for… how can I make my book cover less shitty?

None of this happens right away. It’s a gradual process, and it happens on the job. I’m not right, or wise, or an expert, but I know more now than I did. If you want to be a full-time writer, you need to write full-time. Maybe around a day job too, because life’s hard and sometimes it sucks. (Take a job as a writer. That way you’re getting paid to practise all day.)

But when it all pays off, and you learn stuff, and you can watch your readers enjoy your writing and see your writing improve each time… and maybe even start to build your own business with it… there’s no better feeling in the world.

Stop believing in yourself, and I will too. Let’s admit that we suck at writing, and don’t know anything, and just work hard to improve.

 

Dealing with fear

Fear paralyses. The solution is certainty. You focus instead on what you know already – and expand your knowledge from there.

We all get nervous sometimes. Life throws big decisions at you, and there’s often no way around them. Just through.

Maybe you’re itching to quit the rat race, and tap into that well of creative energy that’s always been boiling and bubbling in the back of your mind. To make a go of it, and even forge your own creative career. But it’s a hell of a jump, to quit the safety of that day job. How do you even know you’ll succeed?

That’s where you develop your convictions. Yes, it’s a big leap to quit your day job and be a full-time creator. But it doesn’t need to be scary. Not if you’ve done some prior homework, and you’re already certain.

Certainty is worth more than gold. There’s a lot going on in this world, and there’s an awful lot of things we’re unsure of. No one has all the answers. But the ones with an answer, of any kind, are often the ones who get ahead.

Certainty, confidence, experience… it’s all pretty much the same thing. The more you know, the more certain you can be. And for certain people, life has a strange tendency to get out of the way. You just have to know a little more.

It’s like building up a mental toolkit, and keeping those tools clean, sharp and up to date. You develop certain skills and approaches. You keep a close eye on your industry. You have the right information to hand, like a tool, to handle what comes your way. It’s as simple as knowing more.

Take the study of business, for example. Watch enough speakers, gurus, experts and millionaires and you’ll find that the same patterns emerge: that while education punishes us for failing, it can be a badge of honour in the entrepreneurial world. It’s a valuable lesson, priceless experience, and often the springboard to try another venture and get it right. Since no one has a crystal ball, failure is kind of just there anyway.

It’s ok to fail – as long as you learn from it and try another way.

We may delegate our woes to the experts; to the ones who know. Or at least, the ones who appear to know. But qualifications aren’t a guarantee. Experience counts for far more. Are we judging these experts on their results, and the hours they’ve put in to getting them? Or do we believe them because they tell us to?

There are no sacred experts any more. Anyone can be an expert in anything. In our age of information, you could know more about the car you’re buying than the salesman trying to sell it. You could know more about his sales techniques than he does – and watch him using them too. You could know exactly what makes you want that car, and exactly what it’ll take to make you buy it. You could be the most certain person in that dealership… and you could walk away. Maybe you know you could buy it cheaper elsewhere. Maybe you don’t need the car at all. The point is, either way, you’re certain.

It’s the same if you want to make that jump into self-employment. You realise that some people know a lot, and you learn from them. But no one has all the answers, and there’s nothing to stop you knowing as much as anyone else.

There’s a fine line between confidence and ego, but it’s a very solid line too: it’s objective fact. Does your self-employment make enough money for you to live on? Do you sell your works for what they’re worth? Do you have the social proof (reviews, customer feedback) to demonstrate your ability, and point out where you need to improve? Subjective opinion and artistic passions aside, the numbers don’t lie – your work either sells in the marketplace, or it doesn’t.

If you commit to learning everything there is to learn about your art form, and the business, and (crucially) how to make that sale to support yourself, then there’s nothing to stop you from making the leap to self-employment.

To deal with fear, educate yourself. Strive to know more than the average bear. Get certain.

Now buy my books.

“I want to write books too.”

“That’s great!” I’d reply eagerly, once upon a time. Now, my response is an eyelid twitch. A grind of the teeth, and a thought:

Please tell me what I’m supposed to do with your statement. Please tell me what to tell you, to make this conversation end. My imaginary friends need me.

One does not simply want books into existence. There’s a long part in the middle, with tapping sounds. And coffee, and sighs. And rage. At stupid o’clock in the morning, through to headache o’clock at night. And repeat.

Writers aren’t special. They’re not tortured artists, and they’re not some ethereal class of people doing the work of the gods. We’re a keyboard peripheral, made of bones and tendons and squishy staring brains. We’re strange and often alone, and may well tick the boxes on the crazy test. But we work. We read, watch, listen, learn. Until we can never really switch off.

I want to write books too, or the closely related I really want to be an author, are fantastic aspirations. But if that’s all you’ve got in that bag of ambitions, expect people to get real tired, real quick.

An aspiring painter can want to beat the sistine chapel. The working painters of the world won’t fall prostrate before them, and wonder starry-eyed at their grand ambitions. That painter learns the sistine chapel in detail, and works.

Wanting things to happen is bullshit. We get to work like everyone else, or we don’t eat. If we don’t have the time, then we make time. There’s no easy way.

So here it is: the truth we should be told in college. There is no creative community. It’s pure meritocracy, and we’re largely in it alone. We’re in this for a love of the work itself, and for the fans we might attract along the way. There’s plenty of guidance out there, to encourage us and point us in the right direction. But when it comes down to it, you’re on your own. You work, and work bloody hard.

You don’t tell anyone that you want to write a book. It fools you into thinking that it’s already well underway. You keep your mouth firmly shut, and let your keyboard do the talking. You publish something crappy, and improve next time. That’s the only way it’s done.

Anyone can want to write a book. Anyone can want to do anything.

Be the one who stops talking about it, and do it.

 

On zen, writing and perfect sushi

At 91 years old, Jiro Ono is widely regarded as the world’s greatest sushi chef.

He owns and runs Sukiyabashi Jiro, a small and unassuming restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district – which serves only sushi, and seats only ten. Prospective diners wait months for a reservation, and include world leaders. The food’s simple, and the venue’s quite plain. It has three Michelin stars.

Walk-in enquirers, sometimes taken back by the prices for such simple food, aren’t given the time of day. They don’t get it.

Jiro Dreams of Sushia fascinating documentary, delves deep into the life and mentality of chef Jiro Ono. His work ethic, his lifelong constancy, and his absolute commitment to serving only perfectly cooked rice and only the most flavoursome fatty tuna from the market. Uncooked, of course. Again, this isn’t flashy food. But a vast wealth of experience, and near-impossible standards of quality, are hard at work behind the scenes.

His eldest son Yoshikazu, following in his father’s footsteps, worries that he’ll never escape his shadow – or live up to his legacy. Not a legacy of flashy food in opulent surroundings, but of perfect food in largely irrelevant surroundings. A legacy of the sheer time and pressure involved in doing one thing to the point of perfection. Colossal, monumental, singleness of purpose.

Jiro’s passion for simplicity is absolutely inspiring to me. I hope, in time, that I can learn from it and apply it to my writing. But hope and action are two very different things. I need to commit myself to intense practise, and years of it.

My early writing was eager to impress. It used big words that no one says in conversation. I cut them out; trimmed the fat. I learned that effective writing isn’t out to dazzle and peacock to its readers, but to communicate efficiently. There are no cornucopias here.

My first novel is wandering and verbose. I think one of my reviewers put it like that, and they’re right. Tabitha’s sequel, less so – I hope. And I’d like the third book to be even more refined. Clarity, brevity and simplicity are key. But still with the invented words and moments of sense-blurring transcendence that I believe the story needs.

I write, edit and proofread my books, without input from anyone but my Amazon reviewers. The self-reliance appeals, even if it does take more time. That’s how I like to work. I’m hardly Jiro Ono, and it’d be egotistical to think I’m made of the same stuff. But that path to perfection definitely appeals.

Some readers enjoy my writing, and some don’t. But every review teaches me to become a better writer – whether their opinions massage my ego, or kick it in the balls. It takes me much longer to accept criticism than praise, but both teach me valuable lessons. To write less, and say more.

When I look up long enough from my own world to think about it, I’m extremely grateful to these people. Because they buy my stories, and it’s enough for me to live on and write their stories full-time. I owe it to these people, to be better. I’ll never reach perfection, but I’ll try my hardest.

But that’s enough of the sentimentality. Let’s end with a lesson in zen. Nothing mystical; only plain-terms and normal-life. It’s a film quote from chef Jiro Ono, about his lifelong passion – but it seems to me like a beautiful meditation:

“Shokunin try to get the highest-quality fish and apply their technique to it.

We don’t care about money.
All I want to do is make better sushi.
I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit.
There is always a yearning to achieve more.
I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top,
But no one knows where the top is.
Even at my age, I don’t think I have achieved perfection.
But I feel ecstatic all day.
I love making sushi.”

 

Making your book feel real

When we’re writing a novel, it can feel like there’s nothing real or tangible about all the work we’re putting in.

No one can see or touch a book we’re still working on, and it doesn’t take up physical space in the world until it’s finally published. It isn’t physically built or crafted in the meantime.

It’s not like a song, a painting or a piece of woodwork; it’s not extroverted to the world. Often we don’t see any obvious change and progression. Sometimes that can be disheartening – or put us off the work completely.

We could work for months or years on a project with nothing but thoughts and a manuscript, both hidden away from the world. Maybe that’s why we can feel like “working on our novel” seems like non-work to other people. A non-entity.

We have nothing to show for all the time we spend working on a story – at least not until it’s a finished book. But why shouldn’t a novel take a physical form during the writing process? Why can’t we make it a real fixture, if that helps us in our work and motivation?

Try filling a wall or two with your novel-in-progress.

It’s often more powerful and effective when writing a book – especially for visual thinkers – to turn those ideas into a physical entity. To make that work seem real and tangible, taking up physical space in the world. It can give us some mental breathing room, too – to get all those ideas out of our heads.

Over the past few years I’ve been developing my own approach to writing books, and making them feel more real while I write them. It builds and changes with each book, but I’ve listed the essentials below.

Sequence your story on a wall or two. Nothing’s better than taking a day to step back from your novel, and work with paper and pins instead. I’ll start every book with a sequence of post-it notes, (beginning, middle and end,) and then expand out the points with more post-its. Creating a kind of timeline on the wall, to build and refer back to. (Google images of “project management wall” for ideas.)

Have images around that inspire you. I love films, graphic novels and concept art. They fire up my imagination, and I can’t escape their influence in my writing. If a certain image inspires me then I’ll cut it out or print it, and stick it to a wall to remind me of the ideas and characters I’m trying to create. It’s about building up a visual world in your head, around the core ideas for your book.

Write about your novel. Being inside your story constantly can get intense. It’s often helpful to step back once in a while, take a felt-tip pen, and remind yourself of what you actually want your book to achieve. Try pinning a blank strip of wallpaper horizontally on a wall, for a large plain writing surface, and just spill your ideas on it. What do you want your story to be for your readers? What do you want your character to grow into? What stage do you want your book to be at, month by month? What’s your deadline for the project? All this can make a book feel more real, more achievable… and taken more seriously.

Chart your story’s three acts. Think of a rollercoaster, or a seismograph. Peaks and troughs. Your story could take the same shape on a chart, so draw it out to visualise it. A peak of drama for the first act, then back down to relative calm; then a bigger peak for the second act, and the biggest peak for the third act’s dramatic finale. This can give you a better feel for what each act needs to achieve for your readers.

Sketch characters, objects and locations. Ideas come in different forms. It could be a landscape you envision in your story, or a family heirloom; maybe a weapon or a creature, or a certain outfit. Even down to a pet, an artwork or a certain textile pattern that you’d like to have around in a character’s home. You don’t have to be an artist to sketch it out, and doodles aren’t just for kids. If it’s good for the story, and creates a clearer mental image for your readers, sketch it out before you write about it.

Choreograph the action. This was a revelation for me. It can be hard to visualise complex action like a fight scene all in your head – a very visual and physical thing – and then try to translate it into words on a page. A fantastic way to bridge the gap is to do what they do in the movies: plan it out. Draw it. Choreograph where you need your ‘actors’ to be, what they need to do and when. Sketch the powerful visual descriptions, and chart the movement of the action across the location. The action sequences in all those films you love aren’t just freestyled by the actors on the day of the shoot – they’re planned and choreographed to the finest detail, weeks and months in advance.

Go back to the wall. Your first draft’s coming on well. Maybe you’re even halfway there. This is a great time to step back again from your written world and update your novel’s physical counterpart, laid out on the wall. If things need cutting or re-ordering, print them out and take scissors to them. Have all your notes and events on their own slips of paper, and sequence them afresh. See if you could lose any sections in the process, to move the story along. See which parts of your story need a little more attention and fleshing out – or what still needs to happen for point A to reach point B, C and D. They aren’t just handwritten notes any more – your novel’s typed up and very real. And it’s taking up a whole damn wall.

So – there you go. I hope these tips help you in writing your own novels, and I’d love to know any tips of your own in the comments below.

I really can’t stress enough how much “The Wall” helped me in writing my own novels, and continues to help me now. If you’re having troubles or doubts about your own book project, or if it just doesn’t feel real to you, then try it out. Take up a wall somewhere and go full Prison Break/serial killer on it. Set out every little detail about your book if it helps.

If your novel just doesn’t feel real and physical enough for you, then make it real. Make it physical. Turn your intangible ideas into a very visible project.

How to kill procrastination

Learn how to win at what you do. And win more often.

Know, way deep down, that you’re producing your best work yet. With all your heart and soul, and a piece of your finite life poured right into it.

It’s the reason lots of people hate their jobs: maybe they suck at them. I’ve been there before. There’s no win; no reward for our brain. No point in putting in the effort, over and over, just to feel bad and prove that we’re a failure.

But if we learn everything there is to know about that job, and practise constantly, and get really, really good at it – suddenly it might not seem so bad. Maybe people see a positive change in us. Maybe there’s a promotion involved. Maybe we’re headhunted by someone else, who’ll pay us more. We’re in a state of Epic Winning. We’re getting chemical rewards in our brainbox for making the sale, or getting the class good grades, or sweeping the street like a god-damn pro so the whole town can use it without getting ankle-deep in rats, and rubbish, and dog shit.

Alternatively, find a new job. Something you do love and care about, and want to be exceptional at. There’s just no greater feeling. It’s fucking incredible.

If you take pride in your job, and get really damn good at it, there just won’t be the will to put it off and procrastinate. You’ll enjoy the work, because it rewards you and helps other people. With more effort comes even greater rewards, and even more people you’ve helped. Suddenly there’s a lure and a pull, and a power, to go back to it.

Here’s another example. Do we put off breathing for another time, when we’ll have more energy and willpower to do it? For most of us, probably not. There’s a reward involved – we get to not suffocate. We get to carry on living.

It’s a win.

The effort of breathing gives us a worthwhile reward. Such a big reward, in fact, that our bodies don’t even leave it up to us whether we breathe. They take care of that. Left up to us, we might well put off breathing, or eating, or sleeping, until we can be bothered to do it. Not the best survival strategy, to leave the essentials of life up to our fickle whims and willpower. I’d have dropped dead by now, if breathing and hunger took a constant, conscious effort.

So – procrastination. Whether it’s the next novel, or a workout, or even just doing the dishes… get a win involved. Get supremely good at it, and track your results, and feel the reward afterwards. Or have a certain reward lined up when you finish. Time yourself on those dishes, then go back next time and beat your personal best. Or enjoy that growing feeling that you’re in full control of your life, your home, your destiny. Whatever gives you that winning rush.

If we only take the time to search for the win beyond the effort – or put a powerful reward there ourselves – then we suddenly get all the motivation we need to see something through. And go back again, and improve.

Crucially, put in the time and effort to understand the task and get really, really good at it – whether it’s your job, or writing a book, or just washing the car – because the way to kill procrastination is to replace it with The Win.

You’ll get addicted. You’ll get energised. You’ll want to help people with what you do. You may even get a healthier bank balance, and give the people you care about a better life. And be in a position to give something back to the people you want to help.

Get a winning chain reaction going, from first thing in the morning to the moment you go to sleep, and you’ll begin to wonder what procrastination even means. People are counting on you. Your ambitions are counting on you.

And, as a happy side effect, you’ll also be living every aspect of your life like a fucking boss.

Think about the reward for the effort, the payoff, and get addicted to it. Get really, really good at what you do – and be the hardest-working person you know.

Most importantly, be the most practised person you know, and never stop practising. Hold yourself to impossible standards, and shoot for them anyway.

Find the win.

How to become a full-time author

It takes work. But with platforms like Kindle, the opportunity’s certainly there.

You don’t need to wait for a publisher to pick you. You could be waiting for a very long time. If you’d prefer to see results, and an income from your fiction writing, then I’d say just publish yourself.

Of course, you’ll need books out there and making income to be able to quit your day job. Your first book won’t be as good as your second, and that won’t be as good as your third. Realistically, expect to write several books over months and years before you’re able to make liveable money from what you publish. That’s just how it is.

The trick here is patience, and developing a system that works for you. That works around your job and family life. Maybe you’d write for an hour or two in the morning, and then for two, three, four or five hours after work. It just depends what you can manage on any given night.

And probably the occasional fevered all-nighter, when you finally get that book set up and published on the Kindle store. But, sleeplessness aside,  it’s also the greatest feeling in the world to get your creation out there, into the Real.

There’ll be days at work when you’re exhausted, and bad-tempered. Maybe even thoroughly pissed off.  But you tell yourself it’ll be worth it. One day, sometime soon, you’ll have your own books out there in the world.

All you have to do is give yourself a push. Push yourself every day into building the next chapter in that book. Your first efforts won’t be your best, but no writer is ever done improving. There’s always plenty of room to refine your style.

But at least if you get started now, and put your writing out there in the world, you’ll get a taste to write more books and see where your craft can improve. You’ll find out who your audience is, and what they want to read. You can’t learn how to write for a certain market until you actually start doing it, and making some necessary mistakes. But have the confidence to just do it.

There’s only really one way to become a full-time author, and that’s to figure it out for yourself. Experts can point the way, but you never really know things until you’ve learned them first-hand. Personal experience is pure gold.

How do you become a full-time author? Get started. Teach yourself. Find out what works through trial and error. Practise obsessively, give up some social life, and work your ass off. That’s really the only way.

But it’s entirely possible. It takes practise, but it’s also the most rewarding career in the world. To do what you love, and create stories that other people love too? It’s a dream job! There’s no better way for our kind to spend our time.

And you can absolutely do it full-time, for life, if you get started and learn from those inevitable early mistakes. It’s all about pushing on through to improve.

Every author had to start out this way. Is it mind-mashingly hard work? Yes. But is it worth it too, when you can step away from a day job and build your own creative career?

Hell yeah it is.

 

Do give up your day job.

And don’t let anyone spook or shame you out of it.

No one will, anyway. Your friends and family will be happy for you. And if they’re not happy for you, well… why are you hanging around them?

Most folks you don’t know, don’t care. There really isn’t anyone holding you back from self-employment. So it could be that the only one spooking you out of that choice, is you.

Yes, it’s a big decision. It could be a scary one, until you get some perspective on life. But if you can afford to take a year or more, and still handle all your responsibilities, why shouldn’t you take a running jump and work for yourself? Life’s short. Don’t look back on it and wonder what if.

You wouldn’t be reading this post if you didn’t already have a certain itch, or maybe a drawn-out craving, to throw up your hands and walk out of your job. If the thought’s tormenting you, daily, then there’s probably a very good reason. Your thoughts, dreams, ambitions – maybe even your body itself – wants you out of there. You’ve got things to do. Your own things. Don’t just ignore it.

You’ll need a plan, of course. You’ll need savings to live on until you can turn a profit. There’s a lot to learn about business. But it’s all out there, if you look for it. YouTube’s a gift from the gods.

But just please, don’t, go into debt. If you can’t turn a profit and keep your head above water, you just won’t survive working for yourself. The point is to make profit. If a business doesn’t do that, it’s not a business. Commit to learning more about your market, your industry, and your potential for profit, before you jump in and work for yourself.

You’ll have to take care of your own taxes too, of course. It’s not a frolic in the park with kittens and puppies, but then again most things aren’t. That’s why we have things like frolics in the park with kittens and puppies, to take our minds off it all. (That’s a business idea right there, see.)

You’ll also need to understand cashflow and returns on investment. Understand assets and liabilities. Know that while riches are measured in money, wealth is measured in time. You’re saving up money to buy back a year or more of your life for yourself – and your own ambitions. And if all this sounds strangely like a certain Robert Kiyosaki, that’s because I learned all this from him. If you don’t know who he is – and you want to work for yourself – then get knowing.

Most importantly, take your feelings out of the equation and look at whether the numbers you make are the kind of numbers you can live on. If not, you’ll need to work out how to make those numbers slightly bigger before you take the plunge. Get a feeling for sales, and the processes involved. Again, it’s all out there in books, articles, podcasts and videos.

Is there a chance you could fail? Of course. Most businesses fail. That’s always on my mind. It just depends whether you’re willing to move on to the next business idea, and take the plunge again into self-employment. Just make sure it’s a calculated risk – a decision coming from a place of knowledge and experience. Passion’s the rocket fuel, of course… but it’s counting on there being a functioning rocket engine to work through. A boring, horrible but learnable rocket engine, made of finance and maths.

Funny thing is though, finance suddenly becomes very interesting when there’s more of your own finance around. And it’s going into your bank account every month. You get to like this finance stuff. You suddenly want to make more of all this wonderful finance. You’ll write love songs to the stuff. Oh, glorious finance, you shall say. As you stare longingly from the window, clutch your aching heart, and sigh. My sweet darling, finance. How did I ever live without you.

But anyway. Passion’s crucial, but it won’t put money in your pocket. You need cold hard facts for that. Make sure you know the facts about your market, and your industry – like whether there’s really enough market demand for that idea to turn a profit – before you jump in.

Not a day goes by when I don’t worry about making enough money in the future to keep working for myself. But that goes with the territory. It’s a risk.

It’s also a risk I’m more than happy to take. Over and over, for the rest of my life. Because none of us really know what freedom feels like, until we actually work for ourselves. Creative freedom, financial freedom… general life freedom. The kind that America sings songs about. Y’know, all the eagles and flags and apple pie. Yep, you’ll finally get the appeal. Freedom’s really, really, nice.

So how about you? Are you ready to do this self-employed thing, or what?

Truth is, there’s never a good time to take that kind of jump. But you don’t know what you’re missing until you do.