month’s column continues from last month’s “Author by Night” column.
Here are the last four tips for mastering your day job and your writing
Tip 5: Cut the
This is a biggie!
I used to be a TV junkie.
Specifically, I used to be a TV news junkie.
Then about ten years ago, a
certain presidential election occurred, and the candidate I did not
support was elected. Once this candidate was sworn into office, he
tried to do so many things I did not agree with that watching national
news made my blood boil! So to preserve my sanity, I stopped watching
the news. This broke me of a lifelong habit of TV addiction, which
turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I learned to get more reliable
news in a quicker manner on selected Internet sites. The time I had
spent watching TV I then used to read. When I became a writer, I spent
this time writing.
Now, I watch virtually no
television, with two exceptions. I will watch my beloved North Carolina
Tar Heels play college basketball and college football. But that’s it.
I don’t watch the NFL on Sundays. I don’t watch the NBA. I don’t watch
baseball. I don’t watch NBC or CBS or Fox or ABC or CNN. I get most of
my news from drudgereport.com, and that’s pretty much it. I don’t watch
Survivor, Oprah, or Dancing
with the Stars, and I didn’t watch the Kaycee Anthony trial.
Cutting the television habit has
not only liberated me from a poisonous stream flowing from Hollywood
but has freed me to work hard in the evenings and allowed me to redeem
a bunch of hours to pull off this two-profession gig.
So do yourself a favor. If you
want to be a writer, in the words of Nancy Reagan, “just say no” to
television. Once you’ve broken the habit, you’ll be glad you did, and
you can get a ton of work done.
Tip 6: Change Your
Diet; Eat Like the Caveman
If you’re going to pull this
off, this two-profession gig, you’re going to need as much energy and
mental clarity as possible.
About six months ago, I’d gained
some weight, wasn’t feeling too well, and sometimes felt out of breath
and anxious. So I prayed for wisdom. And the answer that I seemed to be
getting from multiple sources was “eliminate processed foods.”
So on March 15 of this year, I
jettisoned processed foods for good, and started eating like a caveman!
Here’s what I now eat. Chicken (dark meat without skin), salmon, white
fish, tons of fruits (including apples, cantaloupe, strawberries,
grapes), tons of nuts (including cashews and almonds), and all the
broccoli I want.
Out the window went bread,
carbonated beverages, nabs, cookies, french fries, cereals, cakes,
pies, or anything processed.
If the caveman couldn’t find it,
I don’t eat it.
My beverages include now lots of
water, hot cinnamon tea from Caribou, and black coffee, sometimes
sweetened with Stevia.
I started popping vitamins every
day, including vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, and I also take saw
palmetto, a zinc tablet, and L-lysine.
three months, I’d dropped thirty pounds, and am virtually never hungry
and always full of energy. Now I have more energy to pour into work,
more energy to pour into family, more energy to pour into just about
Remember, to handle the dual-gig
challenge, you’ll need all the energy you can.
Tip 7: Do Light
Exercise with Dumbbells
Closely related to Tip 6 is to
do light exercise for increased energy.
Exercise is essential for
increased energy and overall health. The problem, oftentimes, as a
practical manner, is finding the time to squeeze in exercise. My friend
and Zondervan colleague, the irrepressible and exciting author
Brandilyn Collins, runs a lot. I love running and ran a marathon five
years ago. But now, with my law practice and my writing career all
combined and intertwined, I simply don’t have the time for it anymore.
So I lift lightweight dumbbells in the bathroom in the mornings for a
few minutes. I
reps of curls, tricep extensions, full lateral
extension, and a variety of other things. This is not a full
cardio-vascular workout. But not only is it better than nothing, it
does get the heart going, builds muscle, and makes me feel great.
You’ll have to decide whatever works best for you, but I’ve found that
fifteen to twenty minutes a day with light weights combined with that
“caveman” diet seem to do the trick.
8: Pray for Wisdom
as You Write!
Okay, we’ve established that if
you’re balancing two careers, one of which is writing, you just aren’t
going to have a ton of spare time. If you’re writing under a deadline,
as I am doing both with this article and my next manuscript, you won’t
have a lot of room for errors and rewrites. So for the most part,
you’re going to have to get the gist of the storyline down the first
time. You cannot afford to write 50,000 words of your manuscript and
then because you’re way off base scrap the whole thing and start over
again. You could run the risk of missing your deadline, and that’s a
So you’ve got to get it right
the first time!
One of my favorite authors is a
guy named James. James actually mastered the “one name” thing (like
Madonna, Prince, and Oprah) long before the one-name celebrity thing
came into vogue.
Anyway, James actually wrote
this book full of wit-and-wisdom, sort of in the self-help category,
long before anybody ever heard of The Purpose-Filled-Life,
or The Millionaire Next Door, or even Become
a Better You. This book written by James was such an
international best seller that it’s even named after him. Can you
imagine that? Having a book so powerful that you can get away with
simply titling it after your first name?
Anyway, back to the
wit-and-wisdom of one of my very favorite books. I read James a few
years ago and saw that he wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should
ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will
be given to him.”
I read that line out of James a
few years ago, and then, years later, when I started writing books, I
actually tried putting that advice to work. I had to. I had no choice.
So I’ll just ask for wisdom
about what to write while I’m in the process of writing it. Usually,
I’ve found that this tends to work! If you’re a believer, you know
exactly what I’m talking about. And even if you’re not a believer, my
advice to you is try it anyway—that is, asking for wisdom! You never
know where it might lead!
Okay let’s recap. If you want to
write a novel and balance a separate full-time career all at once,
remember these tips.
Tip 1: You’re not alone.
Tip 2: The best ability is stickability.
Tip 3: Live with your laptop.
Tip 4: Learn to compartmentalize.
Tip 5: Scrap television!
Tip 6: Eat like a caveman!
Tip 7: Do light exercise with hand weights, 15–30 minutes a day.
Tip 8: Pray for wisdom, whether you’re a believer or not!
Okay, I hope these tips have
helped. Now have a sip of water and get to work!