How to Become a Successful Writer and Work Full-Time at a Day Job



In today’s article, Ron Vitale talks about how he is making the transition to become a full-time author:

Take the First Step

Back in 2008, I made a decision that changed my life. I decided to write a novel.

Yes, I worked full-time at a day job and had two small children, but realized that if I wanted my life to change, I needed to either make a move, or let go of my dream. Having my big “four-oh” birthday on the horizon proved to be the kick in the pants that pushed me to act. I thought long and hard, but decided to take a leap of faith and try. I now have 7 novels on sale on various platforms and am working on my next.

I went from “wanting to be a novelist” to “being one.”

How? I did the following:

  • Made a public commitment to my family and friends, holding myself accountable.
  • Created a schedule that worked for my busy career.
  • Chunked the work into bite-sized pieces.

Believe in Yourself

All my life I had waited for someone to validate me as an author. To change that unhealthy behavior, I started doing. I wrote in the morning before work, read “how to” articles and started listening to podcasts on writing and publishing. I reframed my goals by choosing to invest in myself and my dream.

No longer would I wait for someone to discover me, I would discover myself. I knew I would fail, need to pick myself back up and continue to try. But through it all, I realized that my greatest asset was my belief in myself. If I believed I couldn’t do the work, then I would never succeed.

Butt in Chair

Once I had decided to write a book, I need to plan the logistics. My days consisted of the following:

  • Day job (including commute): 11-12 hours with weekends off
  • Dinner, cleaning up and chores: 1-2 hour
  • Playing with kids, putting them to bed: 1 hour
  • Free time (spend time with my wife, read, watch TV, hobbies): 1-2 hours
  • Sleep: 6-7 hours

Initially, I looked at my schedule and did not see where I could make time. Sure, I could cut out my free time each day, but I kept that on my schedule in order to actually have time to talk with my wife. I became frustrated, thinking of how little time I actually had to write, learn indie publishing and teach myself marketing strategies and started to give up hope.

To solve my problem, I chose to get up early several days a week to write while using my commute to and from work to focus on research (listening to podcasts, reading marketing books or industry blog posts).

I found the first few weeks of writing hard. I’d stare at the blank screen, start to write, but had trouble piecing together narrative threads over the course of the week. On Thursday, I’d forget my idea from Tuesday.

I kept trying, stopped writing when I became too frustrated or overwhelmed, but soon the habit grew on me after three weeks. To cement my new early morning writing habit, I found ways to trick myself into being motivated:

  • I set a word count goal of 1,500 words per writing session.
  • I created a Google Sheet and kept track of my daily writing counts.
  • Before I finished my writing session, I’d allow threads to be left open by stopping in the middle of an action scene or in the middle of a conversation between two characters.

By using simple motivational means, I started shaping my own success because I could see my word counts adding up over time. After the first few days, 1,500 words became 4,500 until eventually I wrote 83,000 words. No longer did I feel lost, but had a tangible means of tracking my success – success that I could share with family and friends.

Read the rest of this fantastic article here:

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