Set a deadline
One of the things that helped me to be serious about becoming a children’s author was by setting myself a goal deadline. In my case my first goal was signing with a literary agent. I think having a deadline to try and achieve this did two things: firstly, it made it feel like I was committed and taking writing seriously, and secondly, it gave me an end point. If it didn’t happen I would move on. The date I set was my 40th birthday.
Be realistic about what you can achieve
Before you chuck it all in to become a sky-diving instructor who has never actually thrown themselves out of a plane, have a quiet word with yourself. Are you really, really aiming for the right thing? Do you honestly think you have the undiscovered acting talent to be the next Olivia Coleman? Or the skills to win Olympic gold in archery? I think we all have an inner voice that knows if we are any good or not. If your inner voice is screaming ‘don’t do it’ then just pare that dream back a little. Set small, achievable goals and enjoy the satisfaction when you reach them.
Money – be prepared to give up some of the good stuff
In my book ‘The Boy Who Fooled The World’, my main character Cole learns the old adage that money doesn’t buy happiness. I think that’s worth remembering when you pursue your dream. I have friends who have gargantuan mortgages, new cars and foreign holidays each year, while working long hours in jobs they hate. But they prefer to keep their lifestyles rather than make sacrifices by doing other ventures. I completely understand that. We all have individual opinions on how much money we need and reducing your income to following a dream comes with a lot of stress. I’d also strongly advise not following a dream in the hope of huge financial gain. If your dream comes with financial security then that is brilliant, but that shouldn’t be the main reason you’re doing it.
Ignore the knockers
If you share your goals to other people, be prepared to face some raised eyebrows, smirks and sarcastic comments. Not everyone will see what you are doing as a worthwhile pursuit. Remember that inner-voice (if it told you to try) and keep going.
Protect your ‘dream’ time
A bit like money, time is something that is individual to all of us. One person’s busy is another person’s lazy day. We all have different demands on our lives and making space to spend time on our ‘dream’ can make us feel guilty. A way to get around this is to think of this time as work, regardless of whether it’s making you any money. Put it in your diary. Don’t cancel it unless you really have to. If you’re making a serious commitment to follow your dream then you have to protect the time that you’ll need to get there.
Two books that helped me along the way… Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King.
The Boy Who Fooled the World by Lisa Thompson is published by Scholastic, out on January 2nd.