“How To Live on the Beach and Not Have a Boss”
by Edward Lee
I have a great life. I live on the beach, for God’s sake! Here’s how you can have what I have. Seeing that my life is a model of success, a lot of aspiring novelists ask me for advice, and one of the questions they ask me most often is: When you were starting out, how did you find time to write? This is a pertinent question. See, I haven’t ALWAYS been a full-time fiction writer. I had to work a job too, to pay the bills, so I had to write in my free time. Writers just starting out can get frustrated by the technical reality. How does one work a job, get enough sleep to survive, maintain a social life, AND write?
The answer is simple: it’s all a matter of perception. First of all, scrap the social life; it’s the easiest thing to get rid of. If you don’t want to get rid of that, then I guess you can become a crystal-meth addict and get rid of the necessity to sleep, but this I don’t recommend. Another alternative is to get rid of the job and take care of the bills by engaging in a less time-consuming occupational effort, such as robbing liquor stores. I don’t recommend this, either, but this method does have a built-in fail-safe. (If you get caught, you’ll have PLENTY of time to write, in prison).
What’s probably the best alternative can be found in what I said earlier, the matter of perception. View your daily allocation of writing time in a more positive way. Don’t think of it as: “Aw, crap. I just got home from a hard day’s work, and the last thing I feeling like doing right now is sitting my butt down behind my computer to strain my brain on a novel that’s gonna take eons to finish.” Instead, think of it as: “Every little bit I do will add up to something big.” Sounds more positive, right? Less discouraging?
Writing can be likened to push-ups. Some great writer told me this once, but I can’t remember who. You don’t have to do a thousand friggin’ push-ups every day to get a benefit. If you do your “push-ups” every day, it becomes routine. If you DON’T do them every day, it’s a pain in the tookus. Time management, folks. If you’ve got a family, kids, PTA meetings and all that, PLUS your 9-to-5, sure, it’s tough, but if you really want to be a writer, you can find a way to carve out that little bit of writing time every day. Even if it’s just an hour, even if it’s just twenty minutes, give that little bit of time to your muse. Make it as much a part of your day as any other regular thing, including…being regular, pun intended. Look at it this way: if you write one measly page a day, in a year you’ve got your novel.
It doesn’t require a lot of discipline to break into full-time writing, but it does take a little. Hell, everybody’s got a little bit of discipline. I’m living proof! And if you take these suggestions to heart, you can be what I am. Like I said, I have a great life. I live on the beach, for God’s sake! Never mind that it’s actually a beach GHETTO, and never mind that I’m too poor to even own a car. I’ve got so many lizards in my apartment, I should demand they chip in on the rent, and the cockroaches are as big a walnuts. I swear, they’ve got little faces like the Zanti Misfits. My chronic-alcoholic neighbors throw up in stereoscopy every night; every time I walk to the post office, someone tries to sell me heroin, and I couldn’t buy it even if I wanted to Œcos I’m perpetually broke. When bums see me, they don’t ASK for change, they GIVE me change. The roof leaks, the toilet won’t flush, and I can only afford to buy Top Ramen when it’s on sale for twelve packs for a buck.
Write a page a day, and all this can be yours…