In case you don’t know, when I was 28, I went back to university to do a diploma in professional writing.
It was one afternoon a week and the other five mornings and three afternoons, I taught English as a Second Language.
I loved it.
There was a public relations unit included but I was only interested in the creative writing unit.
As part of the course, we had to keep a journal and it was assessed.
I would go around sitting in cafes, listening to people speak and note what they said.
Other times I would write about my feelings and responses to the material we read.
Once I wrote my thoughts on the message in a Bacci chocolate.
But mostly I wrote about my yearning to be a writer.
A bit like Anais Nin.
When I got home from teaching, I’d have a coffee and then get stuck into my homework.
Sometimes it was a short story to read.
Other times it was a short story to write.
Once I had to present the tutorial on Kafka.
When I moved to Switzerland the following year, in 2008, I couldn’t work.
So I started writing the novel that became Wonderlust.
I would get up and make a coffee, an instant one with full-cream milk.
Then return to bed with the laptop.
All I could manage was one hour at a time then.
If you want to know what else I did, you can read Wonderlust.
Because a lot of what I wrote was inspired by my first few months in Lucerne.
After the writing, I’d go into town and in the afternoon to my German class.
Later on I could write for two hours at a time and then for three finally.
But during that time I read all I could about writers and writing.
Somewhere in there I bought Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro.
I didn’t read it all but I got the message.
To be a pro you have to act like one.
I also read about the Delayed Gratitude Experiment.
Kids were given a lolly and told that if they saved it till the researcher came back, they could have a second one.
Those kids who waited for the second turned out to do better later in life.
I wasn’t sure I’d have waited as a kid but I was determined to be one of the successful ones now.
I set up my life to orient around writing.
As soon as I woke, I’d do the two or three hours and then I could do whatever elese I wanted.
And feel happy.
I’d decided to teach only part-time so on the four other days, I got up to write.
Including the weekends.
That meant I couldn’t have more than two alcoholic drinks and I had to be asleep by 11pm.
With few exceptions.
Now it’s been fifteen years since I devoted myself to writing.
I never work weekends anymore but this Saturday I got up to finish a novel I’d been working on.
I started it in January and have posted some of it on my Instagram.
It was one of my goals for this year and I was so thrilled to complete it.
I entered it into the competition.
Meanwhile, I was also re-editing my Love Queen memoir to give back to the editor tomorrow for publishing.
She wanted me to cut out half.
But in the end I wrote a new memoir about my FORMATION until age 28.
And am using the rest as the memoir I’ll publish first.
In the last week I wrote and edited 60,000 words for the second one.
Excluding the weekend.
I was doing seven hours and 10 to 14,000 words a day.
I couldn’t do that long term.
That’s why I’m SO HAPPY to have finished it today!!
I started at 7am and finished at 2.30pm.
Tomorrow I’ll add the journal parts back into it.
So it will be the 80-100K words the editor said it needs to be.
To do this, I need to take lots of breaks.
Have a massage every two weeks.
Do yoga once a week.
If you have a dream though, you don’t need to do so much.
You can start with an hour a day.
Another book I read, back then, was about how you become an expert after 10,000 hours.
I don’t know if I’m an expert.
But I certainly am a pro.
What are you working on or celebrating?
Let me know in the comments below!