It starts as a childhood wish: When I grow up I wanna be . . . . Sometimes, you try on a lot of dreams, a lot of roles. One day, you discover your true dream. I discovered my love of powerful words. My dream was to write fiction.
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. –W.B. Yeats
Many years ago, I had decided I would make my living as a writer. The first person I shared a story with was a family member. She thought they were cute, like the little stories I had read as a child.
I had sold several stories to magazines. The pay wasn’t great. So I decided I would teach a ‘How to Write Fiction’ class at a local community center.
I prepared an introduction to myself and the course, a syllabus, ten lessons, in-class exercises, homework, and reading assignments for each class. I rehearsed and rehearsed. I was ready!
The First Question
Finally, the day arrived. Eight students, ranging from a high schooler to a gray-haired woman of undetermined age, waited for me. I took a deep breath and stepped in front of the class. I welcomed them to the class, introduced myself by name and declared “I am a professional writer.” A hand raised. A question already?
“When did you start calling yourself a professional writer?” the student asked.
When? Intellectually, I had prepared an answer to that question, but emotionally? Not so much. I couldn’t even admit to myself that I had just said the words out loud for the first time. Instead, I answered with the information I’d prepared. I told the student that I had been a professional writer since I began writing with the intent to sell what I wrote. I told her every time I send out a story or a query with the intent to sell it, I am saying that I am a professional writer. I think I even quoted the definition of professional to the class.
I was being truthful, my answer fit the definition of professional and my approach to writing fiction. But, as truthful as that answer was, I didn’t believe it even as I said it. Still, my answer seemed to satisfy the questioner.
I ended up teaching in that community center for a couple of years. My classes grew in size, I had many students who took every class. I defined myself as a professional writer in written and spoken words over and over again. The more I defined myself that way, the more I acted that way.
Life happened. I made other things a priority while my writing took a backseat to the traumas and banalities of life. But the dream was still mine. I continued to write and submit what I wrote. Sometimes I could only do a little, sometimes a lot. I kept saying that I was a professional writer to anyone who asked (and some that didn’t) because I’ve learned those words are powerful words.
Don’t Listen to Naysayers
Everyone has a dream. Maybe your dream is to be a writer, a chef, or a plumber. No matter what the dream is, sometimes it is hard to believe it will ever happen. Self-doubt can be a monster if you feed it. Don’t be your own worst naysayer. Don’t call your dream a dream or a hobby or ‘something I dabble in.’ Don’t say someday. Say today.
Maybe you or your parents, your partner, or your friends call your dream cute, or a hobby, or call it your ‘little’ whatever. You excuse them because it’s not really _bad_ stuff they’re saying. Yes. It. Is. Stop the negative energy where ever it’s coming from. Ask for the support you need.
Make a mantra, “I am a . . .” fill-in-the-blank. Write it in big letters. Pin it up somewhere you’ll see it every day. Say it out loud. “I am a –.” Repeat it as many times a day as you need it. There is power in the spoken word that grows with repetition. Feed yourself power, not negativity.
Follow through with your statement. Take classes. Improve your craft through practice.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.
— Henry David Thoreau
Don’t let your fears of not being successful, of not being perfect, be an excuse not to try. Don’t let anyone keep you at the childish wish stage. Use the powerful words. Change I wanna be a . . . . to I am.