If you are a writer, if you have it in you, writing fiction is about the best damn thing you can do with your time. It’s certainly the best I can do with my time, and yet I have to remind myself of that a few times a year. Here’s your reminder.

This morning I considered all the pursuits I could be chasing.

There’s so much I could focus on. I have this Headlamps101.com site I just got ranked #1 (and #3) in Google for the phrase I wanted. If that holds until Christmas 2017, I’ll be golden. I was thinking about creating some more similar sites to sell other camping or running gear. It’s a lot of work. Few hundred hours per website. It will be gone in a couple of years. Can’t pass that down to my kids, what are they going to do with it?

I thought about doing reviews of high-tech items at my DialedTech.com or Crank101.com sites. Buy the four best sports watches for around $1,800. Review the heck out of them. Sell them on Ebay or in Facebook forums. Recoup 80% of what I paid. Make it back over time with commissions at Amazon. Lot of work. Can’t pass that down to my kids.

Then, there’s programming. Learning to code IOS apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, etc. Lot of time. Lot of work. It could turn into more passive income after some time, but for a year or so I’d be working for The Man, trading hours for dollars. Not ideal.

I love writing.

I cranked out my last book in 30 days. Three years ago.

It is something like 85,000 words. I rented a room in a hotel for six dollars a day that overlooked a rubber tree plantation and elephant trekking (which I abhor BTW), and an incredible sheer limestone rock face. I blocked my favorite apps for six to eight hours each day with the “SelfControl” app for Mac-OS (Self Restraint for Windows), and I just sat there and wrote the book with air blowing through the open windows, and the air-conditioner cranking ice-cold. I brought bananas and red-bull so I didn’t need to leave for at least four hours. The book did well. The target market was expats in Thailand, and those interested in Thailand. It did as well as expected. I got some super-encouraging words from readers. I think it has 25 reviews and 4.5 stars at Amazon.

Then, I just stopped and didn’t write any more fiction.

I’m back to it now.

This Is Why…

I want something that provides passive-income.

I mean, I am willing to work my ass off for a while. Few weeks. Few months. I have that in me. I think most of us have that inside. If you were on fire about something, you could probably work at least a few hours on it passionately every day you had the free time.

Couldn’t you?

I was brought up with the idea that if I worked hard, I’d be rewarded. I remember saving for my first bike. It was $129 back in 1979. A Raleigh with big tires. Indestructible. I delivered papers and saved my allowance. I bought the bike. That lesson carried over. Unfortunately, I worked for others most of my life until I picked up some skills that allowed me to work for myself. That was better, but not ideal. I was still trading hours for cash because I never built up my online businesses to the point where they became passive income. I always sold them first.

Then in 2006, I wrote some books. I also started what became a 500-video library on YouTube. As a result of those two efforts, over the next eight years I discovered the absolute joy of passive-income.

God, there’s nothing like it. For eight years I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to. I did, don’t get me wrong. I love to work on online projects. But, the point is, there was money coming in every month regardless what I did. I could have gone somewhere and drank myself stupid every night for eight years and it wouldn’t have mattered. Money rolled in.

I’m not talking about tens of thousands of dollars. I’m talking about a couple thousand. Few thousand sometimes, with some of my other projects I had going.

I know most of you reading this have no idea what that feels like. I’m lucky to have experienced it. I’m lucky in the sense that I didn’t do anything to screw it up, and I’m lucky to have just naturally gravitated toward skills that helped me accomplish that.

If you’re a fiction writer, you have the same opportunity.

In a couple years, your life may change inside-out. While you’re sitting in a rented apartment today, in three years you may be sailing a boat to Hawaii to buy land and build a home on Maui.

The power of fiction writing at a high level to completely change your life is mind-blowing.

It happens to people every single day.

We’ve all read stories of writers who didn’t know if they had it in them. They didn’t know, ‘would it be worth it?’ They didn’t know if they could find the time. They didn’t know if it was some elaborate fantasy they built up in their mind, or if they really had the drive and intelligence to make it happen.

So they risked it.

It’s always a risk – right?

Writing a fiction novel takes an immense amount of drive, work, focus, and time. Writing 85,000 words over twenty-four days took me about one-hundred hours. That was the first draft. It took another couple hundred hours of editing before it was ready to sell.

Ask Hugh Howey if it was worth it. Ask Joanne (J.K.) Rowling. Ask J.A. Konrath. Ask Barry Eisler. Ask Mark Dawson. Ask Charles Bukowski. Ask Amanda Hocking. Ask Chuck Palahniuk.

Ask the 72,950 writers and authors making over $55,420 each year in the United States if it was worth it to keep writing. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

If you have what it takes, you can make a nice living at writing fiction.

I mentioned that, for about eight years I had no worries. Today I have worries again. I didn’t write during that time. I did few videos (also passive income). I occupied myself with some other money-making pursuits, but I didn’t focus on passive-income. I’m too easily sated.

Today I find myself pushing the ‘GO’ button again. I need to start cranking again. I’m writing this post because over the past few weeks I’ve been looking at all the things I might put my energy and time into. Today, it became as clear as day. There’s really only writing fiction. I’ve been forever changed by the prospect of spending the rest of my life collecting money that arrives from the cloud, once I put in the work.

Fiction is the Best Pursuit

  1. Passive Income. I already said, there’s nothing like it. Work your ass off for some period of time, and make money for years, maybe the rest of your life, from that monumental effort. It’s really the only activity worth pursuing for me. I hope you can see the value in it. No, there’s no guarantee. There’s risk. You risk eating out at any restaurant – you could have failing kidneys by morning. Life is packed with risk, and most of it doesn’t trouble us. We cruise around in our cars like nobody could blow through a red light, cream-corning us and our kids. Happens every day, but we’re still driving.
  2. Limitless Potential. J.K. Rowling didn’t have the slightest idea that the fantasy stories in her head would lead to making her a billion dollars, or whatever ungodly amount of cash she has taken in by now. Not a clue. The potential is greater than that. Someone will better her success. Just a matter of time. Just a matter time for someone who probably doesn’t even have the confidence to write and publish a fiction book, to just do it. Stories of all sorts can make you enough passive income to retire. You have to have what it takes, sure, but you know what? It doesn’t take as much as you think it does. I have, like you probably also have, read books of successful authors and turned your head to spit when you realized what utter crap it was. As writers, we have our ideas about what makes a good writer, and what is junk. It’s a good thing not all readers are writers, or we’d have very few books make any money at all.

    “If you are going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.” Charles Bukowski.

  3. Ultimate Creative License. You can create a new world. There is nothing limiting you, except your imagination. There’s probably nothing outside of writing fiction that is so free. You choose everything about your book – and you can publish it exactly how you wish. Success or failure is up to you, but there are plenty of authors who have written novel novels, and been rewarded for it. If you’re the creative type – writing fiction is the ultimate. It certainly is for me.
  4. Highest Self-Esteem Building Endeavor. I read somewhere that 80% of the adult population of the USA would like to write a book. Most probably know that their book isn’t worthy of national or international accolades, but they want to write it. Why? The achievement. It feels REALLY good to finish a book – fiction or non. There’s something amazing about knowing that within us is the capability to write 50K, 100K words with a main focus, that can affect other people. When people ask what I do, and I used to say, “I write books.” There was an instant change in the questioner, and I got treated a little differently in most cases. It’s sort of an awe. People must think all authors are smart. Or, at least they assume you might be. Ha! Because writing a fiction book is such a major independent project, that few are capable of, it feels awesome to do it.
  5. Easy to Pass on to Heirs. A major reason to focus on writing books is that you can hand down the passive income to heirs. Your kids. Spouse. In fact, I don’t think you even have to do anything, your kids and spouse inherit your assets, right? What could be cooler than that?

If you’re trying to figure out, what should you focus on, what should you do? If you are a fiction writer, or think you might be, push yourself to do it as soon as possible. Push yourself every day, every other day, on whatever schedule you can – and get it done.

You’re not living until you RISK something. The bigger you risk, the bigger the reward. The reward may not be money. It may not be riches. But you’re going to gain self-esteem from risking it all and writing your book.

Why not sit down tonight and outline a story?

Why not do it right now?

Why not?