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Five Tips To Become A Nomadic Writer – Achieve The Freedom You Crave

Heather Lee Dyer is an Author Success Coach and the award-winning author of several young adult science fiction and urban fantasy series, two creative non-fiction books, and contributes to several anthologies and online magazines.

 
Executive Contributor Heather Lee Dyer

I learned a new concept this week. If you’re an avid reader or just enjoy rarely used words, you might have heard this term: the doldrums. I admit, far back in the reaches of my brain I’ve heard the term before. But I never really understood what it meant. Now that I know what it is, it perfectly fits my mental state a few years ago. And maybe the mental state of a good percentage of the population during and after the pandemic.


Photo of lake and view of sunset.

Doldrums are “a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.” Sailors use this term to describe an area in the ocean where the wind calms to the point that sailing vessels can become stuck for long periods of time. Like those sailboats, we can fall into this state of stagnation mentally and physically.


1. Have the desire

Do you dread each morning having to show up to your brick-and-mortar job? Do you find yourself looking out the window to daydream about your next vacation instead of taking care of the paperwork on your desk? Do you have a burning desire deep inside to experience the freedom of travel on a permanent basis?


There are more and more people leaving their comfortable lives to sojourn across the country as a lifestyle, not just on vacation. As a writer, you have the unique opportunity to achieve the nomadic lifestyle of your dreams. I’m not promising it will be an easy path to achieve, but it will be worth it. Having the unquenchable desire to become nomadic is the first step to building your new life. Hold onto your dreams tightly and selfishly, that way when things get uncomfortable (and they will!) you have those desires and goals to remind you exactly what you’re working toward.


I’m not talking about leaving your children with the nanny and never coming back home. When I say selfishly, I don’t intend for you to hurt others at all costs. I’m just saying, when the time is right, your plan is secure, then it will be time to focus on your needs and desires. For example, when we’re young and don’t have kids or a mortgage, that is the perfect time for you to work on this dream. Or, after all your children are grown and out of the house, then a nomadic lifestyle is attainable.


Road and cars


2. Do your research – Costs and income

Before you give away all your belongings and hit the road, research exactly how you’ll make a living as a digital nomad. Are you already making money writing, editing, or copy writing from home? Or if you’re working a full-time job and writing on the side, can you turn your writing gig into something full-time? It’s important that you know exactly how you will make your living so that you can afford all the necessities and enjoy your dream life. You want to set yourself up for success as much as possible before you pull the trigger on hitting the road.


Also, be realistic about the costs you might encounter as a nomad. Yes, it will be much less than your expenses in a house or apartment (especially if you live in a place like San Diego!), but there are still costs. It would be horrible to get out there only to need to return to your nine-to-five dreary job just because you didn’t plan for your car or RV breaking down, or you didn’t factor in the costs of campgrounds, hotels, or other places to stay as you travel.


In the year after I left my state job, I had to replace the transmission in my converted van, my diesel heater broke down, as well as I almost fried the electrical system after draining the batteries too far. My income also dropped significantly this past year as I’ve moved away from coaching and toward full-time writing. I know that in the end it will be worth it, but in the meantime I’m thankful that my husband has a great job and that we’re nomadic together.


A blue truck


3. Take action

After you’ve figured out how you will make a nomadic living, you’ll also need to research how to live on the road. Will you travel in an RV or do vanlife? Will you bike around the country or fly and stay in hotels? Does your health and vehicle insurance cover you while on the road? Where will you get your mail? How will you keep in touch with loved ones? There are a lot of moving parts and infinite ways to do this nomadic life, and there is no right or wrong way, only which way will be the best for your situation and needs.


Putting all these pieces together might sound overwhelming, but if you have the desire to pursue the nomadic lifestyle, this process will inspire and invigorate you. After I bought my 2015 Chevy Express van for my 50th birthday, I started ordering the things I would need to convert it. I watched YouTube videos, read blogs, and I learned from other vanlifers what the best and most affordable options were. One website I found recently for nomads is: https://becomenomad.com.


Each time I saw those items in the garage, it would energize me and help push me past the point of exhaustion since I was working full-time and building my van out in the evenings. It took me eight months to complete my van, and I’m just as proud of that accomplishment as I am about the twenty books I’ve written so far. The van was one way of accomplishing my dream of being a nomadic writer.


Once you’ve done your research, just take the first step. And the next. Don’t let your dream get away because of fear, inaction, or doubt. Take action today to move it forward. There is a reason this dream came into your heart!


Trees and rocks


4. Put the puzzle pieces together

Celebrate every step of the way, no matter how small. Once you’ve designed your perfect dream lifestyle, researched all the moving parts, taken the action to start accomplishing it, then keep going. Never give up.


It took me only eight months to build out my van, but I worked for several years before that to create a financial plan that allowed me to quit my state job and work remotely. I didn’t think I could ever walk away from that stable income, double retirement, and free health insurance, but my dream was bigger than my need to be comfortable. I stepped outside my comfort zone and did what I needed to have the freedom and choice of how I wanted to live my life.


A lake and trees


5. Surround yourself with cheerleaders

This one should actually be the first tip. You need to find mentors or a few close friends that can be your cheerleaders on this journey. Don’t listen to the negatives that might come your way, and trust me, they will. People, especially if they aren’t happy with their own lives, will be fearful for you. They’re afraid you’ll fail, that you’ll get hurt or stranded, or even that you’re selfish for wanting this unique lifestyle.


I had friends and family that thought I was crazy for not staying in my comfortable (in their view from the outside) life at my age. I was told I would be homeless and come crawling back and that my Lupus would get worse, and I’d be too sick to survive on my own. I learned to ignore those negative vampires, shared only with those who supported me, and instead concentrated on each step I was working on in order to design my dream life.

 

If this digital lifestyle is what you truly desire, I urge you to take your dream seriously. Start researching, planning, and taking small steps toward your goal. Even something as simple as setting up a savings account to start funding the dream is a step forward.


 

Heather Lee Dyer, Author Success Coach

Heather Lee Dyer is an Author Success Coach and the award-winning author of several young adult science fiction and urban fantasy series, two creative non-fiction books, and contributes to several anthologies and online magazines. She is currently living out her dreams as a digital nomad traveling the lower 48 states with her husband in a sky-blue semi-truck.

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