Writing For A Living – New Ways Of Being

We’re going through the biggest period of change in human history, and one that’s accelerating.  Every aspect of life is being disrupted.  As a general rule of thumb, if you’re carrying over any wisdom about the world and how to operate in it from more than ten years ago, it’s probably no longer applicable.  (And that’s not an age thing – millennials are bringing forward that wisdom from their parents.)

Everything is changing.  So isn’t it crazy to stay doing the same thing?

There’s never been a better time to re-invent your life.  To reach out for a way of existing that you always thought was beyond you.

Most of our ways of operating that are embedded in us from childhood are based on a Victorian – if not earlier – worldview.  The notion of a ‘job’, a career, the 40-hour work week.  Sending children to school for long days, designed, not to educate the child, but to keep them out of the way so the parents could be productive for those same long workdays.

Our education system really isn’t fit for the 21st century.  We don’t teach things that are vital for the modern age.  We’re stuck in a groove of repeating things that once worked.

The aim is still one of moving children out into a world of work as it was, but which is disappearing fast and will be gone very soon.  According to an Oxford University study, all developed nations will lose 47% of jobs within twenty years.  In his excellent book, The End of Big: How the Digital Revolution Makes David the New Goliath, Harvard academic Nicco Mele makes the case very clearly.  In the future, most companies will have only four employees.

The Bank of England warns of imminent career collapse for accountants, auditors, technical writers, train and tram operators, and power plant operators.  There’s a medium term threat for financial advisors, computer programmers, airline pilots, surgeons, judges and magistrates, and economists.

The lowest risk of all?  Creators.  Ideation – the creation of new ideas – is the major area that won’t be disrupted in the short to medium term.  They used to tell us that the creative life was the riskiest one to choose, financially.  And now the nerds and the geeks and the meek shall inherit the earth.

This rapid, escalating change can be a crisis.  But if you’re wise, it can be an opportunity.

RULE # 13: Change your thinking.

You don’t need to have a ‘job’ like mum and dad told you.  Or go to an office.  Or have a career in the traditional sense, not if you don’t want to.  In fact, it’s probably wiser not to.  Why set yourself up for obsolescence?  You certainly don’t need to work a 40-hour week to make the same amount of money.

You don’t need to buy into that Victorian worldview, or keep repeating ways of being because it was right for your parents and your grandparents.  The opportunities are available to do everything differently, if you have the will, and the courage.  Work smarter.

I understand The Fear.  Structures give us comfort in a chaotic world.  It’s easier to keep doing what you’ve always done rather than sweep everything away and start afresh.  That’s frightening.  What if I’ve discarded stability for something worse, even if I wasn’t happy before?  What if I can’t put food on the table for my loved ones, or a roof overhead?

Income is the biggest worry.  No one wants to be a starving artist (especially when you can’t create when you’re desperate).  But it’s entirely possible to make a good living…often a very good living…from writing.

A lot of doomsayers will tell you that’s not possible.  But I would suggest their position is because they’ve not been doing it properly.

It all comes down to strategy.

I’ll be getting down to the nitty-gritty in the coming days and weeks.  But the first step (even though it’s Rule # 13) is to change your thinking.  Throw out those old and outmoded ways of seeing the world.  Once you understand the landscape as it is now, the way forward becomes a lot clearer.

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