Saying Goodbye to My Corporate Career and Hello to My Calling: How My Former Business Career Helped Me as a Writer
Go to the office.
For my entire professional career, I went to an office. I liked going to the office because it was both a tranquil and productive place to spend time. Today, I do not have a traditional office to go to. I wrote my first book sitting in the Charleston Library Society on King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. In our home in Charleston now, I have an office. So, while I have a place to go—since it’s a home office, given all the nearby distractions—having a destination is only half the challenge. For me, ‘going to the office’ is a mindset. Therefore, I put myself into a frame of mind of going to the office. My morning routine—making coffee, some quiet time, catching up on headlines—culminates as I walk up the stairs to physically enter my office, but also to shut the door and ‘go to the office’ where I write.
Set realistic goals.
Setting goals as a technique for boosting productivity is neither rocket science nor a novel idea. But, at least for me, I find that when I prep To-Do Lists and goals— short, mid and long term—I often over commit and set unrealistic goals. When staring at unrealistic goals, I revert to procrastination. Why? Because by setting unrealistic goals, I set myself up for failure—and since I do not want to fail, I never start. For instance, I recently rescheduled my days and set aside four hours each morning to write. Oh, good grief! This was a daunting goal especially, at the outset of writing a new book as I was still just fleshing out the story. On the advice of my coach, I reset my goals—write for 45 minutes each morning and see what happens. I can always extend the allotted time. Bingo—this worked. I kept to this schedule and my writing improved in terms of quality and quantity.
Focus on what’s important.
We have all experienced the pull of tasks and projects that distract us from what is really important. Attending a vaguely purposed seminar or meeting to learning a software package designed to improve your ability to blah, blah, blah..., the ideas that seemed worthwhile at the time. If you are in sales, sell. If your job is product design, design products. I know that over the years I have been distracted by some new shiny object. The temptation today in my life as a writer is just as real. There are plenty of things one can do to distract from writing, such as researching the latest software designed to help you write a book. I reviewed some of these products and concluded I would spend more time learning the software than using the software. My job is to write, and Microsoft Word works fine. Focus on the job and what moves the needle. For me, that’s words on a page.
Go all in.
When I learned a new business or industry, I went all in. I immersed myself in the subject matter, attending tradeshows, reading trade journals, researching the competition, vendors, and customers, and more. I did what most everyone who starts a business does. When I sat down to write a book, I first tried to do it as a hobby—but I found that I was not able to attack the project as a hobby. I had to go all in, which meant walking away from other pursuits. I did, and it was worth it.
Writing can be a lonely business. It’s easy to look back on your day and see you hardly ventured from your desk. This is not healthy, and my writing suffers when I do not make time for activities that clear my mind. I am reading a book compiled from Ernest Hemingway’s advice on the writing life. He recommended regular exercise and to make love a lot while writing. I’m going to give my wife the book when I’m finished. So, I write—but I make time to play golf, go for the occasional run, get on the water, or do other activities that give my life balance.
Paul was born and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Paul and his wife, Lyn, met in college at Georgetown University and were married after Paul graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law. They moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1988 where Paul embarked on a thirty-year business career before retiring so he could write fiction. Paul and Lyn raised three children together in Phoenix and now split their time between Phoenix and Charleston, South Carolina.
Blood in the Low Country is Paul Attaway’s debut novel. Writing this book, along with the move to Charleston, is a coming home of sorts, a return to the South. The history and culture of America’s South is rich, complicated, at times comical, sad, tragic, uplifting, and inspiring. Paul hopes that his novels can capture even a small bit of this tapestry. Learn more about Paul Attaway, and purchase his book, here: https://www.paulattaway.com. Find the audiobook on Audible, Amazon, or Apple Books!