Dream Big. Work Fiercely.

I recently attended a local writer’s conference where I had the opportunity to mingle with writer friends I’ve met online. And I had the chance to meet some new writers.

As I walked into this particular one-day conference, a woman and her daughter approached me and introduced themselves to me. “My daughter was hoping you’d come so she could meet you.” The woman smiled at me. “She read your book and enjoyed it.”

I shook hands with the daughter, always excited to meet a new reader. At first I assumed the mom was the writer attending the conference and that she’d brought along her daughter for the fun of it. But I quickly realized that the daughter was the writer and that the mom was there for support.

As things turned out, I ended up sitting across the table from the mother-daughter pair, Chris and Amanda Barratt. During the course of the day, I was able to learn more about Amanda’s writing journey.

I was amazed to find out Amanda is 14 years old, writes 1000 words a day, has completed four novels, and has already begun to pitch her books at various major writing conferences. Not only has she begun to attend writer's conferences, but she also has a professional blog and has started interviewing published authors (and this week she interviewed me! Check it out here!)

The encounter with this amazing young woman was inspiring. I went home and told my older children about her, hoping I could encourage them in two simple things:

1. Don’t be afraid to dream big.

Dreams are free for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your background is. Dreams have no boundaries. Most of us live in a time and place where we have the freedom to choose to be or do anything. Class, gender, race, money, even age—none of that matters anymore.

If we’re not dreaming big, it’s likely because we’re stopping ourselves rather than someone else holding us back. We could be hung up by fear of failure, laziness, lack of inspiration, or any number of personal inhibitions.

I asked my children to look at what they enjoy, the areas where they’re gifted, and the things they’re most passionate about. Then I challenged them to get excited about something, to pursue it with abandon, to think positively about accomplishing that particular aspiration.

I told them, “If Amanda Barratt at age 14 can start living out her dream of being a writer, you can start living out your dreams too.”

The lesson is true for all of us. Start dreaming big. Don’t put it off. We can begin living out our dreams today.

2. Be willing to work really hard.

Anyone can dream. That’s the easy part. But it takes infinitely more than wishful thinking to make our dreams come true.

Amanda is off to a great start at realizing her dream of becoming a published author. She’s not just sitting around talking about how she wants to become a writer someday, or how she’ll get more serious about it when she’s older, or how she’ll invest in her writing career when she’s more certain of her future. Instead, she’s pursuing it with all her might NOW.

We can have great intentions, but we have to follow them up with plain-and-simple hard work. That means we have to make plans, plot out our goals, and then do the daily work of getting from here to there—even when we wake up some days and feel like giving up on our dream.

The fact is, if a young 14 year old can write 1000 words a day and complete four books, then the rest of us have no excuses.

Absolutely no excuses whatsoever.

We need to stop complaining, stand up (or sit up!), and get to work.

Dream big, but work fiercely.

What do you think? Are you dreaming big enough? And are you working hard enough to make your dreams become reality? (Aren't you as inspired by Amanda as I am?!)

*Photo credit: flickr Heidi 0201


  1. Good morning, Jody! I'm not surprised at all by Amanda. Teenagers amaze and inpire me each and every day. But my daughter (your daughters' age) is a writer and she and I discover other writers like Amanda quite often who, like you said, are DOING IT, no excuses. And these children who are living their dream are writing stories that are big and exciting. They let nothing hold them or their writing back.

    I wish I could highlight or bold that last sentence - THEY LET NOTHING HOLD THEM OR THEIR WRITING BACK. I know I could use a little lesson in that. Write freely with no excuses.

    What an inspiring post! And what an inspiring young lady.

    Happy Friday, Jody!! Have a good weekend.

  2. That's incredible. And what a supportive Mom! Thanks for sharing.

  3. What an amazing teen. Thank you for sharing about her. I love hearing stories that show teens in a positive light because society tends to be downers about teens not achieving their goals.

    I love what you said about dreams having no boundaries. In fact, I think I will write a blog post about that topic next week.

    Jody, you are an inspiration to so many!

  4. Again, your blog amazes me.
    If you have the time or interest, check out two posts on my blog 12/20/2010 Young Writers and 12/28/2010 What I like about young writers. Children really are our future.

  5. Okay, A. Amanda rocks. And B. I dream big and work hard.

    Happy Mother's Day to another hardworking mama!
    ~ Wendy

  6. What an inspiring read Jody. There really is such a huge difference in wishing and dreaming, and then doing something about it. It's something I have to remind myself of every day!

    What an exciting future that young girl has. How inspiring.

    Happy weekend to you!

  7. Wow! Amanda is a great example for us all. Thanks for sharing her story with us. There really is a huge difference in dreaming and working hard, and even though some might say a published author got lucky, there's no doubt every one of them worked hard.

    Happy Mother's Day!

  8. To find one's passion at so young an age is amazing to begin with. To have the self-confidence, support and tenacity to see it through is mind-boggling. Thanks for sharing about her, Jody.

  9. Goodmorning everyone!! Thank you for chiming in with your thoughts today!

    Heather, I think you hit on something very key, something that I think applies to adult writers (as well as youth). We can't let anything hold us back. That means we can't let anything stop us from sitting down to write. But also, we need to allow ourselves to dream big about our stories too. Sometimes we're too tame in what we write!

  10. Amanda sounds like an amazing person!! Dream big and work hard...that's a great combination.

  11. Young people are amazing. My husband teaches close to 150 of them each year, and we attend some of the events at his high school. I marvel at the students' many talents and abilities as well as their accomplishments.

    I think it's important to remember that it's never too late to pursue a dream. I've got a few decades on Amanda, and mine is coming true.

  12. This post reminds me of my favorite scripture, Ecclesiastes 11:9: "You who are young, make the most of your youth. Relish your youthful vigor. If something looks good to you, pursue it. But know also that not just anything goes; you have to answer to God for every last bit of it."

    I love that verse because it completely sums up what I live my life by. We each have a different calling/path for our lives and shouldn't just wait to begin going after what we enjoy until after school, but start now. I wrote a post similar to this topic a while back if you'd like to take a look.

    Thanks for sharing this! More young people need to realize that it's never too early to begin pursuing your dreams. =)

  13. You're one Lovely Mama, did you know that?

  14. Wow! My folks are convinced the best writers produce their best work in their 50s - I'm 28 and still have trouble convincing myself that I'm mature enough to write something publishable. At 14 I had no hope! Will try to let this encourage me rather then sinking into feeling like I haven't acheived anything so far... (I spent my 20s getting my PhD, which is fab, but not something people want to read!)

  15. Wow, Amanda is so inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing her story with us. I've been writing stories since I learned how to read and write, but I didn't start really taking my writing seriously until I was 21. Good for her for pursuing her dream now! Amanda has a very bright future ahead of her.

  16. Definitely inspired! (And wishing I had had that kind of drive when I was 14...imagine where I'd be today.) Now to go revisit that thing I call a schedule and figure out how to rededicate myself to my craft. lol...

  17. Wonderful post about an inspiring teen. I look forward to the day when I see Amanda Barratt's novels for sale.

    Thank you for profiling her and showing some fellow author support.

  18. Brilliant! I wish I could say I had that determination and focus when I was her age. That is just so amazing and inspirational.

    We so often lose sight of our own dreams, our own aspirations because we get bogged down in daily life. It just becomes a matter of asking ourselves 'Why not?' We may stumble, we may fall, we may succeed. "There is no try." ~to quote Yoda. If we give it our all we stand just as much a chance at succeeding as failing.

  19. Jody, you made the vital connection between dreams and hard work. It's only with hard work that dreams become reality. And Amanda's an inspiring example of someone who's making her dreams come true.
    I can't wait to read Amanda's book(s) one day!

  20. What an inspiration! That is absolutely amazing. I love that she's dreaming big, and Mom is encouraging her. Great stuff.

    I also love that it doesn't matter how young OR old we are, we are free to pursue our dreams.

  21. How impressive! Fourteen years old and writing 1000 words a day and has four novels under her belt! That young lady puts me to shame!

    But, what great advice for your own children to hear: "Don't be afraid to dream big, and do be willing to work really hard." Of all the rules floating around out there, nice to see it can really be distilled into those two pieces of advice. Good for us adults to hear, too!

  22. Very inspiring, thanks for sharing it! I constantly have to remind myself and even give myself permission to dream big. There is so much more possibilities when we dreaming big can become a part of our daily lives.

  23. Great post! Procrastination sometimes gets the better of us and as we go along and grow older the list of reasons we create for keeping ourselves from pursuing our dreams seems to grow longer. Amanda's a great inspriration for anyone at any age and reminder to stop making excuses and get back to business :)

  24. "If we’re not dreaming big, it’s likely because we’re stopping ourselves rather than someone else holding us back."

    I agree with this! It is our divine right and ability to dream. To conceive. To imagine. Nobody has control over that. The moment we acknowledge our fears--we allow our dreams a little breathing room.

    And then they can take us on a ride.

    To Dream!

  25. To have such clear goals at that age is a blessing because excuses and burdens arrive once you get older. I was twice British champion in Tae Kwon-Do at 16 and I don't even make it down the gym these days. Teenagers are lucky that they have all this energy and if they have purpose too it can be very productive. What a nice reminder to get on with it, thanks Jody!

  26. Wow. This was inspiring. And it gave me a swift kick in the rear-end.


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