An Author’s Perspective on Hacking Work & Pleasure

June 1, 2017
Climbing Gym, Paris

Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

Being able to combine work and pleasure is one of the reasons why I enjoy being a digital nomad. I’ve authored more than thirty books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and often find my inspiration in the activities I love most. Many of my books, for example, have something to do with horses; my favourite animal. It’s easier to get motivated about doing all that research when I’m excited about the subject matter!

Firsthand experience also provides an extra level of expertise when it comes to getting the details right in an article or story. My recent novel Deadpoint (a novel for teens about mountain climbing) is a case in point. I love to climb and I am afraid of falling, so I wanted to explore that weird dichotomy I know so well. I wanted to draw on my own experiences to establish the emotional tension in the book, but also had to get the technical details of climbing right, too. I interviewed experienced mountaineers and also observed a group of new climbers who were taking a course. I learned all kinds of things in the process of writing the book.
A fringe benefit of writing about subjects you are already interested in is that research and travel expenses related to research may be used as tax write-offs. On a recent trip to Paris, I pitched an article about where to climb in the City of Love to a climbing magazine. Selling the article will generate a little revenue, which is great, but costs associated with doing the research (entry fees to climbing gyms I’ve tried out, a portion of my trip costs, and time spent working on the article at a shared workspace coffee shop) are legitimate business expenses. It almost seems like it’s too good to be true! I’ve had to take my notebook to the gym and make sure I get some decent quality photographs, but that’s a small price to pay to be able to climb in some pretty cool places.

I take extensive notes while working on any writing project and will likely use the information I gather in more than one place. If I can write a travel article about taking part in the annual Pony Express re-ride and include specific sensory details in a historical novel and write a presentation about riding a horse along sections of the old Pony Express trail then I’ve maximized my return on my investment of time and effort. The fact I’m enjoying myself while doing my job – well, that’s a bonus!

To learn more about my work, visit one of my blogs – or I’ve also recently started a Patreon account and would love it if you would consider supporting my ongoing creative efforts. To learn more, visit

Photo credit to: Fabio Lacentra