I was asked to give a talk to a group of high school students for career day. Now I've had a couple of careers, first as a drug and alcohol and mental health counselor, and later as a helicopter mechanic in the Army. But I wasn't being asked to come and give a recruiter's speech, nor to talk about counseling. No, I was being asked to talk to these kids about my favorite hobby for pay. Look, writing isn't my career. It's not a job, for me. I don't write on schedule, on a budget, or for an editor or publication. I write because I love to write. I dreamed of being a writer all my life, but life got in the way. So, I put it off until I had the time to pursue it. So, for me, there's very little motivation to deal with the hassle of a publisher, or put myself through the agony of trying to make that deadline every week, month, or even year. I write when I want, as much or as little as I want. That doesn't mean I don't want success. I think I have just come to define success differently, now that I've taken a permanent vacation from the timeclock I've punched since I was a young teen. I'm not ready to sit in a rocking chair and sip lemonade just yet, at least not for long stretches of time. So, what am I going to tell a room full of kids about writing as a career?
The plain truth.
Whatever goal you have set yourself as a writer, or an author, you can achieve it. Forget the nonsense from all the naysayers. It's just sour grapes from people who gave up too soon, or set their goals higher than their talent, drive, and know-how could get them. You can succeed as an author, but you have to set your career path according to your goals and abilities. Just how successful you want to be will determine how hard you have to work at it. Define what success is to you, not what the world expects, and then lay out your plan. Then get to work. There's no excuse. Stop pretending that anything is keeping your from writing, but you.
I'm going to use lots of lists of three here. I've learned through my years of study of psychology, that three is very important. My degree, by the way, is in psychology, not literature or journalism, or even English. That's important, but we'll get to it later. The human brain processes things better when they are broken into sets of three. People remember things better when they are chunked into sets of three. So, here is the first set of three.