Ok, now that I have the Kaepernick thing out of the way, I can get back to my other work, which was my plan all along. (However, I do want to say a quick thank you to everyone who read that article, whether you agreed with it or not. We broke 100 views in 24 hours, which has only been done like two other times in the history of this website. So thanks.)
For those of you that read everything I post, you’ll know I recently started a fitness website. It launched in June, and so far I have a stream of about 20 dedicated readers that habitually click on whatever I put out. Shouts to you guys. For those of you that like my other work (ie the stuff that infrequently appears on this website) I’ve been inactive for a really long time. The reason for that is a simple, yet important one: I was disenchanted with the idea of becoming an author. I found myself thinking less and less about my career as a fiction writer, and more and more about pursuing a career as a personal trainer and fitness “expert.” My passion switched from writing made up things to analyzing scientific research and learning about the best ways to build muscle. Which would have been fine, if I didn’t quickly become disenchanted with that.
So there I was, middle of the summer, two years into studying university-level English, and I still had no clue what I actually wanted to do with myself. Pretty big problem. Pretty TERRIFYING problem. I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know what it needed to change into, nor how to properly go about it.
Since the summer is where I have the most free time, I decided that I’d take some of that time and use it to find myself. What ensued was not a romanticized journey of eventual bliss, rather a highly-structured unfolding of events that led to me writing this post and being more productive than ever. If you’ll stick around, I think you can learn something from my example. I’m not trying to sound like a narcissistic ass, but I really did figure out what I wanted out of life and I developed a concrete plan on how to do it. If you’re stuck in a similar situation to the one I faced, I think this can help you get on your way.
First, I decided I needed to do a little bit of everything. I knew my two conflicting passions needed to be pitted against one another in a grueling battle. At the same time, I was lazy and didn’t want to commit too fully to test things out. Eventually, I decided I would add three things to my daily routine, all of which should have been staples at this point anyway.
I set a time allotment for reading, writing fiction, and writing about fitness. As long as I wrote made-up stuff for 30 minutes a day, read for an hour a day, and worked on establishing a fitness brand for a half an hour, I could do whatever else I wanted. I was also working daily five-hour shifts at my summer job and spending roughly another hour of my time at the gym. When you add all that up, it accounts for 8 hours (but adding time for gym travel and preparation adds another hour) so we sit at 9. I limited myself to 6 hours of sleep a night, always from midnight to 6 AM. I needed to get out of bed and attack my days early. 15 hours out of the way.
Add in another two hours for cooking and eating times, and another for work travel that I neglected to factor in previously. That’s 18 hours. So after I got all that junk done, I essentially had 6 hours of every day to do whatever else I wanted.
I tried this process for three weeks, and after that it became automatic. They say it takes about a month for anything to really stick with you, but I found myself doing this without thinking after roughly a week. Yes, I’d still glance at the clock every few minutes during my daily activities, but eventually, I could sit through it all without clock-watching once.
I never worked at my job on the weekends, so with that extra free time I added an additional 30 minutes to everything I normally did. I spent two hours of my Saturdays and Sundays writing, and an hour and a half reading. Quickly, a trend emerged.
When I first started, I got a little worried. I was flying through my fitness writing without second thought, but writing fiction was a grind. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, but sometimes my mind was on other things and it was a bit of a drag. I was confused even further; was fitness my true calling? Should I transfer schools to a place with a good exercise program and scrap the whole “becoming a novelist” thing all together? I was close— closer than I wanted to be– to doing just that. But, just like I’d hoped for at the beginning of this experiment, something changed.
I have to chalk the primary reason up to research. I found out that it takes a HELLUVA lot of time to do proper scientific research and find supporting studies to back up my arguments. It’s like a scavenger hunt, and while it does give you a rush of endorphins when you find what you’re looking for, it’s even more mentally draining slogging through all the stuff I know to be BS. What’s more, I was finding out that I didn’t actually know nearly as much as I thought I did. It was difficult work, man! I kept at it, but I soon found myself looking forward to the fiction writing much more than the fitness type. When I could make up everything, things went smoothly and were much more enjoyable. It also helps that I stumbled onto what I think will be a full-length novel in the process.
As I sit here now, I’ve been working on the same story for well over a month. Just 30 minutes a day, not too bogged down by it, but putting the pen to paper nonetheless (and literally, too– I will not write fiction on my laptop because it offers so many rabbit holes.) I started with what I thought would be another short story that I could publish to Amazon. 10,000 words, tops. I’m thrilled to say that I’m over 15,000 words and 50 pages in, and things don’t seem to be slowing down. I can’t guarantee how long this thing will be, but it’ll be longer than anything I’ve ever written. I’ve got plans to try and get this actually published once I’ve redrafted and edited enough.
My “success” (It’s successful compared to a lot of other stories I’ve started and scrapped) got me thinking about literature more. It reaffirmed the dreams I’ve had ever since middle school— that I could write fiction for a career. It might be really bad and never see the light of day, but just knowing that I have it in me to write a full-sized book is enough. It’s given me the confidence to keep working, keep practicing my craft. My foray into the fitness industry has moved over into the passenger seat. I’m still pursuing something of that nature, but it will always play second fiddle. I could live without ever becoming a personal trainer or internet expert, but I don’t think the same could be said if I stopped writing fiction.
A couple other strange things happened throughout this entire process, but I chalk these more up to maturity. I stopped partying so much. There was a stretch of time where I didn’t see my friends on the weekends for weeks. I still haven’t stopped hearing about that one. But I can honestly say that if I continued to do what I was doing, I don’t know that I ever would have come to my current state of writer’s bliss. (Don’t get me wrong, I still like partying as much as the next guy, but I don’t feel like I have to go out on the weekends anymore. Staying in to work is just as acceptable.)
The second thing has to do with this website. As the 70 or so of you that follow this blog know, I don’t post regularly. After an extended period of not posting anything, I was considering abandoning this site entirely, just throwing away all of the work high school me put into it. I wasn’t coming up (or even trying to) with new things to post on this site; I figured I’d been gone too long and that no one would care what I had to say. Now, though, I realize that I do have some stuff to say— lot’s of it, in fact, and even if no one clicks the link to this post, I’m going to publish it anyway. Becuase I have something for the world, and somebody out there is bound to stumble onto it.
Take that last paragraph with a grain of salt, because as you know, we’ve been here before. The difference in me from now and then, though, is that I want to do this. I won’t be posting just because I feel like I have an obligation to a bunch of lovely people on the internet. I’ll be posting out of a love for literature, and a love for voicing my opinion. If you choose not to listen, fine. If you choose to make fun of me for doing something out of the ordinary, that’s fine, too. But I’m going to do it.
I can’t leave you all without giving credit to a person who most certainly played a part in convincing me to salvage whatever internet presence I could. I’m not going to name his name because I haven’t asked, but if this is about you, you’ll know. And I know you’ll read it.
A while ago, I was at a party with some friends and I had a very thought-provoking conversation. It began with a compliment. “…but I think it’s really cool, what you do. I read everything you’ve ever posted, and I just think it’s awesome that someone I know is trying to do something like that.”
This was around the time I was closest to pulling the plug on the whole operation. I expressed gratitude, but I was also still very iffy on everything.
“I think you should keep doing it,” he assured me. “Who cares if you’re only reaching x number of people. If it’s something you care about, you need to keep going.”
We kept on the subject for a little while longer, and to be honest I still haven’t really stopped thinking about the conversation. Sometimes it’s the little things that can talk you down from a ledge, and my god was this one of them. I’m almost certain I would have deleted both of my websites had this conversation not taken place. Instead, I’m back with a vengeance, bitches. I’m going to continue both, and I mean it. I’m going to use the same technique that helped me re-discover my love of writing; If I have to force it at first, who cares? I know now that this is something I care about, and I believe in my ability to do it. To the person who I’ve been talking about: I don’t know if it’s possible for you to know how much what you said actually did impact me. Our casual talk may have forever changed the scope of this site– and I’m forever grateful. Sometimes, you just need a little support, and you gave it to me. This is sounding far more sappy than I intended it to, but it all rings true. Without that, my platform would have faded into obscurity.
All right, dudes, that’s really all I have for now. If you’re struggling with a decision about what to do with your life, what to study in school, finding what your passions are— I urge you— give all of your interests the same amount of time every day for a month. You’ll know by the end what you really want to do. To be honest, I’m using this process right now. It’s taken me far too long to push this out because I was trying to word it perfectly, so I forced myself to work for half an hour and finish it tonight. AND I realized it didn’t need as much reworking as I initially thought.
In summation, sit down, do the work, and reap the dividends. It sounds like everything you’ve been told since you were a five-year-old, but I’m 20, and even I learned something from that wisdom.
*I’ll be going more in-depth on my routine and how to structure one for yourself eventually. For now, check out my fitness website if you’re into that kind of thing, and maybe buy my short story here.