Here's irony for you—I spent a huge chunk of my life writing for a living until I could figure out what I wanted to do for a living.
I kept trying out new careers and new industries, taking new jobs and building new businesses, and all the while doing anything but considering writing as my career.
What makes it worse is that all the while, I was saying things like, "I wish I could win the lottery or get a job or build a business that gives me the time to just write full time." I kept putting off actually writing, waiting for "some day" to come, so that I could finally start writing.
What a profound disrespect for the skill that has served me so well, all of my life.
I'm not sure why—maybe it's because writing came easy to me. Maybe I subconsciously thought, "Anything that comes easy, that I love this much, can't be something I do for a living." What a huge disservice to myself! All those years, fighting my way through jobs I hated or work that was completely unfulfilling, writing what I could on the side but treating it like a hobby more than a career—and I could have been focused on the writing itself the whole time.
I still do this, by the way. I had lunch with one of my mentors yesterday, to talk about keynote speaking and tweaking my platform. I gave her a list of topics I have in mind, and we talked them out. And at one point she asked, "Why are you trying to talk about everything but the writing?"
That hit me like a ton of bricks. Because more than once, especially in the past year, I have chastised myself for doing exactly that. I fight to keep myself focused on the fact that writing is my career, and here I was ignoring it. Again.
But when we did talk about writing, about the ins and outs of building an author business, about getting past the hurdles of writing a book (even if writing a book isn't something you particularly want to do), I was on fire. I got so excited and so passionate, I could hardly sit still! The business of writing, and the writing itself, are things that I love talking about.
That's my topic.
There's a lesson to be learned here, and it applies to everyone. The truth is, a lot of us probably overlook that "thing" we can do. We think it's too easy or too simple. We forget that not everyone knows what we know, or even cares about the things we care about. We can be passionate about something in a way that could inspire others to be passionate about it as well, but we have to recognize that passion first.
My friend and writing partner, Nick Thacker, is really good at finding the MVP—the "minimal viable product." It's a concept I've known about for years, but until he and I started working together I had a tendency to ignore it. The idea is that you don't have to have an elaborate and complex system, service, or product before you can go to market. You need to start with the simplest version, the one that is the quickest and easiest to implement, and get the momentum started. You make an offer, and from there you can grow.
My MVP is writing. It's the simplest thing for me to talk about and to write about, and it sets me on fire with a passion and drive to share what I know and what I've learned. I love working with people who want to be authors, helping them learn the ins and outs of building that business. I love writing my own books, too, and telling stories that entertain or inform or inspire (or all the above). I love talking about and writing about writing, so it's the simplest and easiest platform for me to build on.
I'm glad I had that coffee yesterday. I'm glad I got that wakeup call. It means scrapping some of what I'm doing, and starting again on some things. But it's a better direction, a more sure direction, than where I started. It's the thing that will inspire me to keep writing and creating, and keep sharing and building. It's the thing that will fuel my passion, so that I can awaken passion in others.
I'm a writer. It's time to own that. It's time to get to work.