What is your dream? When you were younger, what did you want to do with your life? What goals did you have for yourself? Sometimes life doesn’t always turn out like we planned. Sometimes life happens, and our plans and dreams have to take a back seat to reality. Sometimes you have to take the scenic route to your destination. Just because you have had to take a detour, does not mean you need to give up on your dreams totally.
When I was in high school I always dreamed that I would become this successful writer. I never wanted to be famous or even well known, but I wanted make enough money off my writing to support myself. Even when I was in college I always imagined myself working as a writer for a television or some other writing intensive job.
Then reality hit. I was a college graduate with a Bachelors Degree in a crumbling economy. Every job I applied for I met the education requirements, but I did not have the work experience they were looking for. I applied for every writing job I came across. I had a few interviews, but nothing ever panned out.
I had bills to pay, so I took a job at a local community college. I found myself working in student services. It wasn’t the best job in the world, but it would keep from explain to my roommates why I couldn’t pay the rent. Even as I took the job, I kept looking for other opportunities. Still, I found nothing. Even my attempts at writing novel fell flat. I would get so angry with myself. I had these great storyline ideas, and then I would kill them by making my female lead to perfect, or not having enough emotion behind the words. I assumed I had failed. I resigned myself to the fact that I would now be facing a career in the education sector, and that my writing would be nothing but a hobby.
Life happened. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. I had plans and dreams, but grown up responsibilities took priority. At some point you have to take responsibility for yourself. Even if you have supportive parents, there is a point where you need to be self sufficient. Many factors put me in this situation. I had family emergencies, and a lack luster job market were the two biggest roadblocks. What were/are yours?
It wasn’t a bad thing that I took a less than ideal job. That job has kept a roof over my head and my bills paid for over three years. It is what I have needed to keep float. My mistake was walking away from my dream. I felt like if I “settled” for my job, I could never make anything of my writing career. I abandoned my pursuits, and I focused on building a future with the Community College. I still worked on my writing from time to time, but it was more “for fun” than anything else.
After about a year of working in Student Services, I decided I wanted to have my own place. I had been living with roommates since I moved out of my parents’ house. Now I would be on my own. That meant my living expenses would increase quite a bit. I earned more than enough to afford living with roommates. I still would make enough to live on my own, but it would be tight. That is when I looked into teaching remedial English Composition at the college. It was only one class a semester, and the extra money would really help me out.
As I began to work with my students, I began to feel like something was missing in my life. I started to realize I really did miss my own writing. The more I helped develop their writing skills, the more my heart ached to actually complete that half finished novel sitting at home. By the end of my first semester of teaching, I was considering trying my hand at a writing career again.
At the same time I was becoming disillusioned with my advancement at the Community College. There isn’t opportunity for advancement within my department, but there are opportunities within the college. I had applied for higher paying jobs in several other departments. However, none of them ever turned worked out. I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want me.
My frustration soon morphed into some powerful chapters in my first novel. At first my journals were just my way of venting. Pretty soon those raw emotions were bringing my character to life. My once flat and nearly forgotten novel had a second wind. Still I saw it as a side project. That is until I finished the novel.
I completed my first novel, and I sent to a few close friends to read. I considered sending it out to be published, but I didn’t think it was good enough. While novel 1 was out being read, I started on novel 2. Even I wrote novel 2, I had more ideas for future novels come to mind. That is when I realized I could just give my dream up. I had to keep writing. Making the decision to go after your dream and actually pursuing it may be two very different processes. Deciding I wanted to be a writer again was a big step, but now I actually had to follow through.
The first step to accomplishing your dream is to set attainable goals. If I went in with the thought that I had to be published and successful in my first round of submissions , I would be very disappointed. These would be very unrealistic goals. Unrealistic goals essentially set you up to fail. Bigger goals take longer to reach, and they may be too much to try to take on at once. Finding a publisher can be a very long process. This is especially true for first time writers. Even if I did find a publisher, I would probably not be able to support myself off one book deal. I would need to have more to my writing career than just novels. I would need to have a full time writing intensive job or enough freelance work to pay my bills.
By breaking down your overall goal into more attainable tasks, you can actually see and measure your progress. Smaller goals may help you put It also can help you organize and prioritize the steps you need to take for success. Remember that one of the perks of setting your own smaller steps is that you can work at your own pace. Do not let anyone ever make you feel like you are not up to par just because you need to take more time reaching your goal
A good place to start is to find a place to gain experience and exposure. This is especially true if have taken some time off. Use this time to improve your skills and to learn from others. Sometimes, these jobs will not pay, or if they pay, it will not be much. When people are looking to get into the television or film industry, it is suggested that they take Production Assistant work just to get their foot in the door. If they get paid at all, the money is negligible. However, they get much needed experience. Plus it gives them a chance to get their name out there. I started doing freelance writing to brush up on my writing skills. Some sites paid me for my content. Others did not. I liked being able to work on my writing, and to have the freedom to write about anything I wanted to.
Another small step is to take time to look around. Do research on your preferred field of work. Look on Monster.com or Craigslist.org for possible job opportunities. New postings go up every day, so if you don’t find anything one day. Wait a few days and try again. Never count yourself out. If you meet the listed job requirements, and it is something you are interested in, apply for it. You may not get the job. You may not even get a response, but at least you tried. Take the time to look into potential employers. Find out what others have to say about them. If I see a company needs a creative content copywriter, I will see what the BBB has to say about the company. If I know anyone who works there, I will ask them about the company. When I am looking for a publisher or an agent, I look to see if my novel meets their criteria. If it does, then I check out the BBB rating and I check out their standing on the writers forums and websites. I do not want to be sending my writing off to just anyone claiming to be a publisher or an agent.
Finally, do not be discouraged when it doesn’t all happen over night. Even with setting small goals, part of us hopes that we will strike gold. We will find the perfect job, or find the perfect situation with very little effort. Life rarely works that way, and you are only setting your self up for a shock. Sometimes it will be slow going. All you can do is be thankful for the progress made, and to look forward to the next goal. I have been slowly making progress on my writing career over the past year and a half. I have made small amounts of progress. I have a few little things published here and there. I am still trying to find a publisher for novel 1. Novel 2 is nearing completion. I have had my share of success and set backs. It is an uphill battle, but it is one I am willing to fight for the sake of my dream.
If you still have a passion for something you gave up on years ago, it may not be too late. If you have the talent and the drive, anything is possible.