(The intro to this article is based around my writing experiences, but the bullet points apply to many different fields, from starting your own business to pursuing a passion project)
Like most hobbies that people want to turn into a career, writing isn’t easy. First of all, it’s an industry that is LUDICROUSLY tough to break into. There are so many people who want to be writers, many with connections to the publishing industry or more self promotion know how.
As if getting noticed wasn’t hard enough, there’s the time it takes for a book to end up on the shelves to deal with and the fact that editing feels like mercilessly culling your friendship group, not to mention juggling your ‘real life’ around writing. Maintaining a job, relationships, friendships, a social life, self care routine, fitness regime and so on is tough on a good day, never mind when you are adding more to that mix.
Then there is actually writing the damn thing. Honestly, ask anyone who has a passion that they want to bring to life – it is NOT all sweetness and roses.
Coming up with the idea is often the easy part. On any given day I have about three or four story ideas, but sitting down and writing them out? Committing to them to the end? Now that is something else entirely!
I aren’t a famous author or even the most disciplined writer, but some things I have learned that might help anyone wanting to pursue their dreams are as follows:
- Hold yourself accountable. If you set out to write but don’t do it, don’t shrug it off. Look at why that happened – did something come up or were you to ‘blame’? Were you avoiding what you needed to do? Why? As cheesy as it sounds, for many of us our dreams only come true with hard work. You need to hold yourself accountable for the effort you put in.
- Organise yourself. Organisation doesn’t always come naturally to creative people, but it is key when taking on your ambitions more seriously. You need to plan your time well, set goals and monitor your progress. Think like you did when you were revising for exams and break down what needs to be done into small, manageable chunks.
- Don’t care what people think. This is something I am still working on, but when I first started sharing my writing I was terrified of judgement from others. Often this would impact what I wrote or how far I pushed my ideas. This mindset does NOTHING for creativity. A small minority of people might have something to say about what you’re doing or might laugh at you, but so what? More often than not those comments come from a place of bitterness at seeing someone else go for their dream. If you enjoy it and you want to pursue it, then do it.
- Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen straight away. Again, another piece of advice I am still taking. I have been rejected more times than I would like to count. It comes with the career path I am aiming for, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. Take the time to be hurt, to read feedback and take on suggestions, but don’t dwell on the rejection. It might be a no at that moment, but that doesn’t mean it will be a no forever.
- Self care is more important than ever. This goes hand in hand with point 4. Self care seems to be a buzz word at the moment, but never is it more appropriate for when you are pushing yourself and putting your heart and soul into something that may not pay off. Make sure you don’t tie your self worth with the outcome of your endeavours. Take breaks, hydrate, walk away when stressed… the usual advice is all applicable here.
6. Don’t lose the joy you had at the start. For me, writing has always been the thing I enjoy. It calms me, it challenges me, and it resets me. The moment writing starts to feel like a chore is the moment I step away for a while because I know that resentment will shine through in my work. Losing sight of why you are doing something is a thing to avoid.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as preachy. In all honesty, I have written it for myself as well as others. But, from talking to other writers and having to motivate myself to chase my dreams despite adversary and rejection, I know it is advice that is needed.
To anyone chasing their dream, all I can say is well done for getting to where you are. Well done for wanting to pursue something and for finding something in your life that brings you such joy. Now go and chase it. After all, we are only here for a few spins of the globe – why not make it the life you want it to be?
To follow my writing journey, you can find me on Instagram at @jesskitchingwrites