Since my interview with Joanna Penn last month, I became more curious about exploring the different ways writers go about pursuing their wildest dreams. For those of us who tend to go crazy in a cubicle, and need free rein to create, Joanna gave us an excellent strategy last month: save up your money, make sure you have alternative sources of income (other than your day job) that’ll give you flexibility after you quit, make sure you have a well-thought out plan, and then, quit your day job.
Now, this strategy may be perfect for the adventurous among you, but I knew that this might be too daring for others. This is why I thought I would find a writer who could share with us a different approach to following your wildest dreams–an approach that might work for those of you who don’t feel quite as adventurous as others.
Now, I first encountered writer and blogger Jeff Goins when he became one of my fellow Top Ten Bloggers for Writers back in December. But he really got my attention when he wrote this guest post for Problogger: From Blogger to Book Author: The 4-Step Guide. After reading Jeff’s guest post, I instantly could tell that the author was a whole lot smarter (and whole lot more marketing savvy) than I was, so I started to follow him and read his blog. Lo and behold, it wasn’t long before I came to love his positive and incredibly useful message. In the meantime, Jeff was quickly becoming a rising star in the writing world.
To top it all off, Jeff recently got a publishing contract, and, what do ya know, he accomplished this all through blogging. Isn’t that awesome?
The interesting part is that Jeff didn’t have to quit his day job in order to start realizing his wildest dreams. (He still works full-time.) I knew that if I was going to find a writer who could give us some tips on how to pursue our wildest dreams, without quitting our day jobs, I had to look no further than Jeff.
So, without further ado, I present to you my interview with Mr. Jeff Goins, who is living proof that, even if you have a full-time job, you can still begin to make your writing dreams come true.
Ollin: First of, congratulations on landing a publishing contract! How does it feel?
Jeff: Thanks. Kind of surreal, actually. I always dreamed of one day writing a book — like in ten years or something. But never this soon. It’s an unexpected blessing.
Ollin: Last month, I interviewed one of my favorite bloggers, Joanna Penn. Recently, Joanna saved up her money and then quit her day job in order to pursue a life as an author-entrepeneur. This approach worked for her, but I realized that it might not be for everybody. That’s why I wanted to have you on. I wanted to ask you: How can someone who has a full-time job still follow their dreams–without taking the big risk of quitting their day job?
Jeff: I think the biggest myth is that you have to quit your job to start writing. That’s not true. Maybe, eventually, your writing will take off to the point that you HAVE to quit, but you don’t need to do that to get started.
In fact, most writers only spend a few hours per day writing (some as many as six, some as few as two or three). Writing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Most “big time” authors I’ve read about started this way — with a few hundred words per day. I read somewhere that John Grisham wrote one page a day — that’s how he wrote his first book. Stephen King did something similar.
Ollin: What unique challenges (or cons) present themselves when you have a full-time job and are still trying to accomplish your dream?
Jeff: Well, time is certainly a factor. It’s both a blessing and a curse. You only have so much time (maybe an hour or two in the morning or late at night), so it has to count. I’m currently responding to this on my lunch break.
That said, having those limitations forces you to be productive in a short amount of time, instead of wasting so many hours (which is something I still do when I don’t have a pressing deadline).
Ollin: What are the unique benefits (or pros) of keeping your full-time job while you pursue your dreams?
Jeff: The best part is your writing (i.e. your dream) doesn’t have to pay the bills. Not at first, at least. Which is a really great thing, because it gives your “art” space to grow into what it needs to be before you start pulling a paycheck from it.
This allows you to create for the pure sake of creating, which I think we need more of in our world.
Ollin: You landed a publishing contract, so, it’s clear that keeping your full-time job was a strategy that worked for you in the long run. But looking back, do you think you would have done things differently?
Jeff: I wouldn’t have changed much. This is really a dream-come-true, and I am grateful to God for it. That said, one thing I would’ve done earlier is published an eBook. I’m just now getting into that, and I didn’t realize how easy (and profitable) it can be. I’m not against making money, and a lot of stuff I’ve been writing and sharing I could’ve turned into a book six months ago. For those who are just getting started, this is an important lesson: don’t wait to publish.
Ollin: I always like to end with this question: how do you keep your head up when the going gets tough? Any words of wisdom or inspiration for people trying to fulfill their dreams?
Jeff: I struggle with criticism. The more my platform grows, the more I attract people who tell me what I’m doing wrong. That’s hard to handle for me, because I want to be liked.
What comforts me, though, (in addition to my wife encouraging me) is the thought that I’m writing stuff worth criticizing. When I stop attracting haters and critics, I know I’m doing something wrong.
Ollin: Thanks Jeff!
Jeff: Thank you, Ollin.
Jeff Goins is a soon-to-be-published author, blogger, and nonprofit marketer. You can connect with him on Twitter @jeffgoins and Facebook and get his free, weekly newsletter. You can also find out more about his path from blogging to book contract by getting his eBook Every Writer’s Dream: How to Never Pitch Your Writing Again.
>>> Blog Update: Due to the overwhelming response to Monday’s post on discrimination, and the incredibly rich and thought-provoking discussion we had in the comments, I plan on writing an update to that post. The update will appear on the blog this coming Friday. Please stay tuned for that. In the meantime, thank you for all of your love and support in response to Monday’s post. The response that I got was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. Truly. But more about that on Friday. (Stay tuned.)
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