When my first book came out, many people told me that they would love to write their own books as well, if only they ‘had the time.’
I would love to write; I just don’t have the time
Some of you know the story of how my first book was written. I was a broke-ass temp who woke up at 4am to write for two hours, before getting ready to work by bus (because I couldn’t afford the train fare).
I would get home about 7pm, eat, and then, do some more writing until 10/11pm, before collapsing into bed to sleep, only to do the same thing all over again the next day.
And that was only half the story. When I wasn’t writing or at my 9-5, I was pulling extra shifts as a telephone interviewer (I told you I was broke), voluntarily managing a website for writers, and sending out soul-crushing book proposals to traditional publishers and literary agents.
My story is not unique. I know working mothers who write from 10pm to 12pm, because that’s the only time they can write.
I know shift workers who work on their manuscripts on their cell phones, en route to their double shift, because that is the only way they can get any writing done.
So when people tell me that they would love to write, it’s just that they haven’t got the time, I step away, quickly. Because if I don’t, I know I’ll put be away for assault.
You haven’t got the time – you make the time – Abidemi Sanusi
Saying you haven’t got the time is an insult to these people who make the time to pursue their writing goal (it’s not a writing dream, because they’re actively pursuing their goal – geddit?)
What sacrifice looks like
The truth is that we don’t like making sacrifices.
When we see or hear that someone has written a book, all we see is the end product. The glamour of being seen and courted as an intellectual and being a millionaire.
We don’t think of the long hours of writing, the self-doubt, the tedious, painful, editing process.
We read the stories of people waking up at 4am to write or working on their manuscript via their cell phone en route to their double shift. And although our brains acknowledge the sacrifice that those people made to achieve their goal of being authors, I don’t think that we fully process what that sacrifice means until we attempt it ourselves.
And that’s when we know what we’re really made of.
Training for life
Can you wake up at 4am every day for x number of months to write a book?
Could you even do it for one day?
Can you come home after a long day at work to:
- squabbling kids
- an antsy toddler who refuses to sleep
- household chores
- mounting bills
and STILL fire up the laptop at 11pm AFTER dealing with all that, and then wake up and do it all over again the next day, because the writing is that important to you?
And even if your life doesn’t resemble what I’ve just described, could you:
- forgo those 90 mins of mindless television/Netflix, ‘because my brain is fried and I can’t handle anything else right this minute’
- the catch-up dinner with friends,
- and other little sacrifices that add up to a whole lot,
to pursue and fulfil your writing goal?
Well, could you? Because that is what day to day sacrifice looks like. And when you’re in it, it’s not inspiring; it’s bloody awful.
For most people, this is what it takes to write a book. Not wishful thinking. Just purposeful action – Abidemi Sanusi
The fear of failure=>redefining success
Even though I was a freelancer, I’d always wanted to run my own agency, so I did. On paper, I was successful, because I had big-name clients. But the truth was that I was miserable. The stress almost killed me until I made the decision to wrap up the agency and go back to the corporate world, which made me even more miserable.
After I left the company, I was lost. I really didn’t know what to do. All I knew was that I loved to write and liked helping and mentoring writers. And that was how abidemi.tv, the writing website, was born.
My plan was audacious and arrogant: to make abidemi.tv the number one website in the world for writers.
The plan had to bold.
It had to be arrogant…
…and it had to be audacious.
Because I am all three.
I resisted the urge to give the site an English name, because I figured that if Dyson and Phillips were good enough as brand names, then I could do the same for my business.
My heritage is Nigerian. I’m also British. abidemi.tv is a celebration and recognition of the two cultures, and the roles they play in my life.
Some say it’s a branding nightmare.
‘People can barely pronounce the name. We don’t even know what it means!’
I say, ‘Tell that to Samsung’ and while you’re at it, kiss my British-Nigerian ass.
Running your own business is hard. It’s not glamorous. It’s a pain in the whatsit. A lot of the time, it’s like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m always testing, trying out new things, to see what works and what doesn’t. In the process, some plans have changed, but the goal (the sweet, audacious, stupendous, crazy goal to make abidemi.tv the number one website in the world for writers) hasn’t.
Why do it then? Because I can.
It’s no picnic, because let’s face it, my dreams and ambitious are so big that I scare myself. But I’m pressing on, little by little, step by step. Because that’s how stuff (like writing books) gets done – by making the time.
I’m writing this after a long, sleepness night of doing sums and risk assessments for some products I would like to launch next year (there’s that sacrifice theme again).
I’m a doer. That doesn’t mean to say that I don’t fear failure, I’ve just learnt to look at it differently, like looking at it as a training ground for the next stage of my life (whatever that is).
If I try something and it doesn’t work out, that’s all it means: it didn’t work out. It doesn’t mean that I failed. It just means that that way didn’t work. That’s all.
And as we say in England, ‘There are many ways to skin a cat.’
That business idea that you’ve been thinking about for the last 5, 10, 20 years.
That book you’ve been meaning to write for like, forever.
That career change.
Nothing will happen until you take that first step towards making it happen. And after that first step, you keep on walking until you get there.
How to write a book and keep on keeping on
For starters, make the bloody time.
Get out of bed early or whatever you need to do to get that book out of your system and into the world.
Is stepping out of your comfort zone and working on your writing goal terrifying?
Will you stumble?
Will you fall?
But you will not stay down.
But you will never experience all this until you take that first step. So do it.
And if you don’t, don’t tell the people who have taken their steps that you would love to do what they’re doing, you ‘just don’t have the time.’
Because you just might earn yourself some judo chops in the whatsits.
Fired up? Feed the flame with this writing course for first-time authors.
Also published on Medium.