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?!)