Living the Life of a Writer

Meeting new people has become a bothersome proposition for me lately. Not because I’m an introvert or anything like that. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I am extremely extroverted and immensely enjoy social settings. No, the problem is when the inevitable question comes along, “So, Richard, what do you do for a living?”

What Does It Take To Make One A Writer?

What Does It Take To Make One A Writer?

That might not sound like such a problem to you, but at this point in my life I find it to be quite the conundrum. Of course, they are inquiring about what I do to put food on the table, to bring home the bacon, or any of a thousand different colloquialisms for providing for your family. So, I usually just say, “I’m a hotel manager,” because that is the answer they want. But, everyday that description feels more and more foreign to me. Yes, it is what I do to earn a living, but it is not what makes my life worth living. That would be writing.

In my soul, I would tell you I am a writer, but my mind has an issue validating that belief logically. To an outsider, my life might even resemble a writer’s life. I have the blog, the Facebook author page, and now I even have my author page. I serve on the board of a couple different writing groups, work as a graphic designer for a local publisher, and even founded a critique group. Someone might think that I’m well on my way to literary acclaim.

Not me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those self-loathing types who is hyper-critical over everything I write. I sometimes even enjoy a couple of lines I put down. The fact is that no matter how loud my soul screams that I’m a writer, all I have to do is go to that Amazon page to know that I can’t say that yet. Go ahead, take a second and click on that link above. I’ll wait…

There. Did you see it? One. Writing. Credit. I have a short story that is included in an anthology of stories about the Ozarks. My mind won’t let me say that I’m a writer until I quit living the writer’s life and learn to live to write. I have talked the talk, now it’s time to walk the walk.

I actually realized all this over the winter and have been dedicating myself to focusing more on my writing; to making it a bigger priority in my life. It is definitely a sacrifice. I try to write as often as I can and make less excuses as to why I can’t. But, in the end I know it will all be worth it when I meet that first stranger that asks me what I do for a living and I turn to them and exclaim, “I am a writer!”

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Operation Write-A-Lot


My Little Place to Write in this Great Big World!


Operation Write-A-Lot is running smoothly! I have been installing flooring in “The Lounge” where my office is located. During this time I was without a place to write. (If you read my previous post, you would know that a set place to write is essential for me to concentrate on my writing to offset my ADD) I am happy to say I once again have my writing space back! (Applause, applause) Now, begins the hardest part of Operation Write-A-Lot… writing a lot.

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What Motivates You?

If you have read many of my previous blog posts before, you might already know that I am ADD positive. It is a blessing and a curse when it comes to writing. My mind can run through multiple scenarios for plot lines all at the same time, and easily come up with the answers to ‘what if’ questions. But, it is also responsible for the lack of a completed novel so far. It is a struggle I fight every time I sit down to write a passage.

Mock-up covers for Beautiful Secrets and Cedar Beach.

Mock-up covers for Beautiful Secrets and Cedar Beach.

By now, however, I have developed strategies to offset the effects of ADD. I have to be in a place with no distractions. I can not let myself get on the internet for even a second lest my attention be kidnapped by any number of time-wasting pages, games, apps, or the like. I am also more productive when I have music playing, preferably New Age or World Music. I have a station on my Pandora I have named The Muse for writing time.

It’s not that I don’t like to write. It’s quite the opposite. I love to write. But, as many of you know, the availability of free time in a normal adult life is scarce. If your job doesn’t have you 50 plus hours out of the week, then you are taking the kid to soccer practice or basketball practice, or completing tasks on your honey-do list, or cooking, cleaning, and you name it. It seems like during these times when I am busiest my writing is the first thing that gets pushed aside. If I am ever to make it in this business, I have to make it more of a priority.

Recently, I have tried to develop some additional means of motivating myself. I created two mock-up covers for books that I am working on and wrapped them on other books to envision the feeling on seeing that first book cover completed. They are sitting on our piano, and as I look over at them from my seat on the couch, they are compelling me to push on and complete the inside of the novel to match the outside. But, are there any other things out there that I can do to focus myself further?

I don’t usually make this blog that interactive. I normally just blab on about this and that; throwing my thoughts in to the oblivion that is the internet. But, this time I want to hear back from you, especially my fellow writers. What is it that you use to motivate you when you just can’t seem to stay focused on a task? I would love to hear your answers in the comments below.

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How To Lose 50 Pounds

I posted on my Facebook account yesterday that I had finally reached the milestone of 50 pounds lost on my journey to a healthy lifestyle. It has now become my most liked post of all-time, nearing 200 likes at the time I am writing this. It was also followed with a flurry of congratulatory comments; all of which I will use as inspiration as I march on to the 60 pound barrier and beyond. 50I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive sentiments from all of my friends and family. I am truly blessed.

I also received quite a few private messages and texts asking me how I accomplished this achievement. Trust me, I haven’t found some miracle weight loss herb, regimen of pills, or the latest combination of foods that will trim your waistline. I know that is not what most of you would like to read, but that’s the truth. The formula for losing weight has never changed; burn more calories than you take in and the weight goes away. It’s not rocket science, but somehow some of the smartest people in the world can’t figure it out.

I, myself, have obviously had problems with this formula for my entire life. I have tried virtually every diet plan known to man short of a surgical procedure. I experienced varying levels of success with each of them, but in the end I still ended up weighing over 400 pounds.  Even though I am working hard to live healthy, that is a fact that I am embarrassed and ashamed to write. So, why this time? Why is this time different? Better yet, why will it stick this time?

If you were looking for the answer to how I lost 50 pounds, this is the part you were waiting for. But, my secret is not in the how,

Grimace or Me in a purple dress shirt.

Grimace or Me in a purple dress shirt.

but in the why. A few months ago, my wife and I sang a song during a church service. I had a friend of mine record our performance and what I saw made me sick. Not the performance, it wasn’t half bad, but looking at myself in the purple dress shirt I was wearing, I couldn’t tell if that was me or Ronald McDonald’s friend, Grimace. The world hadn’t seen that much stretched purple fabric since Violet Beauregard decided to grab a wad of Willy Wonka’s experimental three-course meal gum. If that had been the only thing that had happened to me, I probably would have done another fad diet, lost 10 or 15 pounds, and then gained it all back plus some.  But, Grimace on stage was just the beginning or this journey. What happened next was the key to losing 50 pounds so far.

After I saw myself as I was, I talked to one of my co-workers who had just started juicing. It seemed simple enough, but she told me before I do it I needed to watch a video called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It would explain the juicing process and the theory behind it. I fired up Netflix that night and what I saw would change my life. Not because of juicing, but because of the stories of the people in the video.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead is the story of how Australian bloke Joe Cross is able to turn his life around through the power of juicing. At 310 pounds and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe is at the end of his rope. So, he vows that for the next 60 days he will fast only drinking the juice of fresh fruit and vegetables. He travels across the U.S. making his documentary while promoting the benefits of his diet.

While at a truck stop in Arizona, Joe meets a truck driver named Phil Staples who suffers from the same rare condition as Joe does. Phil, who weighs-in at 429 pounds, decides to join Joe on the 60 day fast and both of them are able to change their lives for the better.  But, it was Phil who caught my attention. He was just a few years older than myself and weighed a little bit more than I did, but I saw myself in Phil Staples, and I didn’t like what I saw. His gross obesity had turned him into a shell of the man he had been before. He was on oxygen, taking pills by the handful, and rode a scooter everywhere. At 45, he was on Death’s doorstep and had been knocking on Heaven’s door for awhile. It was not what I wanted for myself in 7 years.

That moment was the key to my weight loss. Phil’s story was a paradigm shift in how I viewed dieting. I no longer wanted to lose a few pounds, I had to lose the weight. That might seem like semantics to some, but to me it is all the difference in the world. It is the difference between dieting and living healthy. I now truly believe until you have that moment when you come face-to-face with your mortality and realize that the extra weight is going to kill you, you will spend your life dieting and not living healthy. Your weight loss has to become an essential part of your life as much as the air you breathe.

Of course, while I have given you the gold to take away from this post, I know that will not satisfy everyone. So, here is a few tips on how I got to where I am so far…

  • The first thing I did was consult my doctor about the safety of a juice fast. This was mainly to calm my wife’s nerves about this new fad, but it also was informational to me as well.  He gave me the green light and so I was off.
  • I did the strict juice fast for three weeks straight using over-the-counter juices such as Naked and Bolthouse Farms. After that time, I added food back in slowly. Usually, I did the Slim Fast version of juicing. I would have a juice in the morning for breakfast and one at lunch, then have dinner with the wife and kid at home. Other than how amazing I felt, the main benefit of the juice fast at the start was that my stomach had shrunk. Even the meals I ate were now half the portion size of before.
  • I started working out religiously. I go to the gym 4-5 nights a week, but only for 30 minutes at a time.  I do 15 minutes of weight training and 15 minutes on a stationary bike. I have a bad knee, so the treadmill is out until I am considerably lighter.
  • This is my fun one. Everyone reading this is busy. That is just a fact of the world in which we live. So, fast food is unavoidable. Face it. But, now when I go to a drive-thru, I order a kid’s meal anytime there is one available. I let the restaurant control my portion size instead of relying on myself to control it. I don’t have too good of a track record of controlling my portion size.
  • Lastly, but probably most important, is to not beat yourself up every time you slip up. This is not a diet. You are not cheating. There are no cheat days. I have had candy, cookies, ice cream, cake, nachos, and just about any other junk food you can think during this time, and I don’t feel bad about it at all. The thing I have done is not to deny myself, but only take a small amount when I do grab a sweet. I do not, however, drink the fully-loaded sodas. Those are just empty calories. If I do choose to drink a soda, it is of the diet or zero variety.

You can throw all of those tips out the window if you don’t have the right mindset. They are worthless on their own. Living a healthy lifestyle makes each of those things so much easier to do. I don’t find myself tempted nearly as often as I used to be. My hope is that maybe this will inspire at least one person the way that Joe Cross and Phil Staples have inspired me. But, don’t be afraid to look within your own life for that inspiration. I have a beautiful wife and daughter that deserve the very best version of me that I can be. I need them and they need me, and when you have that kind of motivation, there is nothing that can stop you from losing the weight you need to lose.

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My Work Blog

At my job that pays the bills, I have now been placed in charge of our hotel blog. It is part of our management company’s blog, Venture Out. It is a hotel travel blog that highlights the communities in which our hotels are located. My first addition to the blog is a post about Crystal Bridges. You can read it here.  Enjoy!

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Have A Plan…

Small Boat

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