Don Brown

Don Brown is the author of /Malacca Conspiracy/, The Navy Justice series, and /Black Sea Affair/, a submarine thriller that predicted the 2008 shooting war between Russiaand Georgia. Brown served five years in the U.S. Navy as an officer in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, which gave him an exceptional vantage point into the Navy. His stint as an action officer assigned to the Pentagon gave him further inside-the-beltway insight. He left active duty in 1992 to pursue private practice but remained on inactive status through 1999, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He and his family live in North Carolina, where he pursues his passion for penning novels about the Navy. Learn more about Brown at

For Writers Only

Mastering Two Careers
Part 2

This 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 career.

Tip 5: Cut the Television

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, 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.

Within 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 everything!

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

do 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.

Tip 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 big no-no!

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!


Thunder In The Morning Calm