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How Lessons Learned in Real Estate Can Apply to Writing

Surprising similarities between two very different ventures

Today marks two years since my partner and I moved into our new house.

Rather than just buying a house, though, we took on something I don’t think either of us were really ready for at the time.

We bought a triplex, with the idea of renting out the first two floors and living on the top floor. The building was beautiful and old and charming, with tons of character — and it also needed tons of work.

I think from the very beginning, we could both see that it had the potential to be something really great. It wasn’t something great yet — but we both believed that somehow, we could get it there.

We didn’t know how we would do it; we just knew we had to try.

We took a chance on something we thought would be a good investment for the future, and hoped for the best.

At the time, it was one of the scariest things either of us had ever done. I think for me, it even beat the time I moved across the planet at age 22 to live and work in a country where no one knew me and I didn’t speak the language.

That was an adventure, yes — and a scary one at times — but this? This felt so much bigger!

We had no idea what we were doing, and yet, we were about to be in the biggest debt of our lives, up to our eyeballs in renovations, and navigating our way through the landlord/tenant relationship.

We were about to be thrust into the world of mortgages, insurance, property taxes, bills, finding tenants, rental agreements, the landlord and tenant board, and a million other things we didn’t even know existed yet!

If we’d focused on all the things we didn’t know, I don’t think we ever would have been able to go through with it. There was just so much to learn in what felt like such a short time.

The first two years here have been full of ups and downs, of challenges and triumphs.

We’ve seen the best and worst in each other, and we’ve also seen the best and worst when it comes to the world of tenants. We’ve had those who don’t pay and don’t take pride in their living space, and we’ve had those who treat their apartments like gold.

We’ve gone through periods where we’re constantly struggling to pay the bills and worried that we won’t have enough for the mortgage, but we’ve also gone through weeks and months where it doesn’t even cross our minds, because we know it’s covered.

We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and each other in the process, and we’re learning more each day. We’re each figuring out what our strengths are and how we can be most helpful. We’re also learning what we’re not good at — and finding out that this is equally useful information.

We’re constantly testing ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically, and challenging ourselves and each other to keep growing and making progress in whatever way we can (whether big or small).

We’re on the adventure of a lifetime, with some days more eventful than others.

And this is exactly how writing feels to me right now.

Everything we’ve gone through and experienced with the house is also happening in my writing.

Some days, I’m feeling high, having written something I’m proud of. Other days, I struggle to even form words or to get anything down on the page.

Everything is so varied, so different. I can never count on two days being the same — but I can always count on learning something along the way.

Just like renovating and dealing with tenants pushed me out of my comfort zone, writing every day and publishing something on Medium is also uncomfortable.

It’s challenging and scary at times; but it’s also necessary for growth.

Just like the house is an investment in our future, so is my writing.

Just as we are slowly paying off the mortgage, I am slowly building a writing career for myself. Each article I write is the equivalent of a mortgage payment made.

It’s a long process that requires a series of repeated actions, but it’s taking me in the direction I want to go: toward a better future.

However, in order to get there, I have to push through the hard times at the beginning — which is where I am right now with my writing.

I don’t know what I’m doing, or how to turn something I think is a good idea into something sustainable. But I have to keep taking action anyway.

I have no clue how to turn my dream of writing for a living into reality, just like we had no idea how to turn a scary-looking Victorian triplex into desirable apartments that people would be willing to pay decent money to live in.

Somehow, though, we did it. We’ve taken the house from the point of overwhelming, anxiety-inducing monster to something much more manageable. It’s never done, and we still run into little surprises and challenges from time to time — but for the most part now, it’s a steady, reliable beast.

Who says writing can’t become that for me?

I believe it can, as long as I continue on despite the fears and the uncertainties and the doubts and the negative self-talk going on in my head.

Just like we had to keep painting and working late into the night even when we wanted to be doing anything but that (anything!) I have to keep writing even when I don’t think I can anymore.

I have to keep moving forward, even when I don’t know if any of it will pay off — and even when that payoff may not come until years or decades in the future.

It doesn’t matter how I feel about writing right now, because deep down, I know that it’s the right path for me.

Just like when we first looked at the house, it felt like the right thing to pursue, despite being an enormous undertaking.

What I’ve learned so far from our adventures in real estate can be applied to writing.

Just because something seems crazy and unrealistic at the beginning doesn’t mean it’s unachievable.

Life is an adventure, and learning is never finished. Sharing insights, experiences, and lessons learned to inspire your curiosity and creativity.

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