So here’s the thing. Normally, I’d advise writers to ease into full time work as circumstances allow. There’s no one right way to become a professional writer. Maybe you’re fed up at work. Maybe you saw a chance and you think it’s time to go for it. Maybe you just finished an online degree program and feel ready to go pro. However, I made a discovery over the past week. Three years ago, I wrote a young adult novel. It was fair, and certainly had potential. I got nibbles from a few agents, but nobody bit for full representation. Writing it was like pulling teeth. I struggled to make 1,000 words a day. I routinely had to force myself to sit down and bang out my goal. I liked the story, but hated writing it. Last week, I got hit in the head with an idea for another young adult novel. Three years of writing daily for a living have made a noticeable difference. I’m banging out 2k or 3k words every day just on that story, and it’s coming easily. I’ll post later about some of the things I notice that I learned over those years. I’m enjoying the process of writing it. It’s not always easy, but there’s a flow to it. I blame the habits and the practice of the intervening years. Malcolm Gladwell (I want to be him when I grow up) writes in Outliers about research indicating 10,000 hours is the amount of practice you need to become an expert at a task. Three years, figure three hundred days per year, four hours each day of actual writing time…that’s 3,600 hours so far. I wonder what it will be like by the time I reach 10,000. The moral of this story isn’t necessarily that you should quit your job, and its accompanying health insurance for your seven children, today. But it is that you should write. Every day. Without fail. No excuses. Write. Every. Day. Even if you don’t notice your slow accumulation of competence, your readers will. Thanks for listening.
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