The recent Oatmeal comic is a surprisingly raw and insightful look into what it really is like, and what it really takes, to make your living from your art. I have learned so much in the process of going from an office drone to a professional writer who is fully self-sustained by the craft.
Want to be a writer? Kill your excuses.
Kill them dead!
(One of the things I have learned is that you can never go wrong by making a sarcastic reference to the craft. Works every time.)
When I was in my 20s, I was a thwarted writer. I told myself (and anyone who would listen) that if I only had the time to write, I could become a full-time novelist no problem. I knew that I had talent, but via some strange alchemy of The Real World, that talent did not magically manifest itself as a publishing contract. And the excuse I used was "no time."
The truth is that there is always time. You make time for the things that are important to you. End of story.
"No time" was just a stupid excuse. And once I started the process of identifying and killing my excuses, it led me down the path to, you know. The craft. By which I mean "Waking up at 10AM and wearing yesterday's sweatpants all day today because why not."
Don't get me wrong: some of those excuses were pretty hard to kill. Others wrap themselves around your brain so tightly that you genuinely mistake them for reality. But if you want to make it, you have to start being brutally honest with yourself.
Start by identifying the dumb excuses that other people use. "I don't have the time" is a common one. So is "I don't have the money." No one ever has the money for something they don't really want to buy. And yet people can usually dig up the cash for something they really want, regardless of how dumb it is or how broke they are. (I should know - I have bought some truly dumb stuff over the years.)
Do a quick exercise: sit down with a pad of paper. Turn off all distractions. At the top of the page, write "I would write a great novel, but…" Then list all of the reasons. Be honest. Dig deep. And the funny thing is, once you see all of your reasons written out on a sheet of paper, you see them for what they really are: excuses.