Can I ask you a question, just between us writers and anyone else who happens to swing by my blog and see this post?
What are you hoping for?
When you sit down to write, where do you see your book going? Or, rather, where do you want it to go?
What are the big dreams in the back of your mind that you’ll never tell a single soul and definitely not admit to yourself because c’mon. That’s crazy! You don’t even have a completed manuscript yet. What right do you have to dream about that fulfilling career and personal endorsement by your favorite author in the whole world?
I’m going to tell you a secret.
You are allowed to make your dream as big as you want it to be.
When I was first getting started in my career—and I mean first getting started, a total baby author who hadn’t even finished a single book—my dream was not just to be a good writer or to have a finished book, which would have been a stretch anyway, but to be an amazing one. One of the greats. The elite.
Writer, when I was dreaming that, I was not great. Honestly? I wasn’t even good. And I have old manuscripts to prove it.
But that wasn’t the point. I didn’t have proof this could happen or a five-year plan. I had a dream.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.
~ Shel Silverstein
Now, I am not claiming to be one of the greats. In fact, my dream is still so far out of my reach that at times I lose sight of it completely, and I have a lot of work left to do before I get anywhere near that goal. But it’s still my dream. And I am slowly making steps forward to reach it. Instead of an unfinished manuscript, I have written eight books. Instead of nannying to support my dream, I—against all odds and to my own great surprise—was hired out of more than a hundred other applicants to work as an apprentice scriptwriter for a radio program I happen to love.
Dreams happen. They happen when you have hope and when you move forward step by step and don’t give up.
Tips to Cultivate Hope.
1. Know what you’re hoping for. Do you want a published book, a career as a writer, and a place on the bestseller list? Or do you, for now, just want a finished story and a character that cooperates with you? What are you dreaming about and hoping for? Is it wild? Is it a little crazy? Does it bring you joy?
2. Don’t punish yourself for hoping. I used to do this. All the time. I told myself I was being silly, that I was being prideful. Now I just let myself dream because I’ve started to realize, without those crazy daydreams and wild hopes, I start to give up. I lose sight of what I want, and my attention wanders. Hope keeps me centered, and it keeps me moving.
3. Write your dream down. Repeat it to yourself when you’re alone. Keep it somewhere you can go back to, especially on the days when life feels all kinds of impossible. You’re going to need that spark of hope. So keep it alive.
4. Don’t share it with everyone. Let it be yours, just for now. People are quick to shoot down ideas they feel are ‘impossible’, or to come up with ten different reasons why you’re crazy for even trying. Nothing kills dreams faster than someone else trying to be realistic for you. So, for now, keep your hopes a little sacred, and let your work speak for itself when you finally reach your goal. ‘I have’ is much harder to argue with than ‘I will’.
Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.