How to Declare & Conquer Big Author Dreams.
by Julia McLean
Admitting our big dreams can be scary, but it shouldn’t be. Your author goals are valid no matter how ostentatious, audacious, or booty-licious - no, wait - preposterous they sound.
Let’s master the art of taking yourself seriously and learn how to communicate your goals to others in a way that empowers you instead of making you want to cower in the corner.
Real quick, before we get into that, let’s have a little chat about where this fear of owning our most sincere desires originates.
Unraveling artist scarcity and the punishment of success.
Starving artists. Struggling creatives. In a myriad of ways you’ve heard from Passive Aggressive Patties, Innocently Inquiring Ians, and Downright Dismissive Dans that it’s not going to happen for you. And, on the slight chance you do make it, waiting for you at the finish line is a boatload of criticism not just about your work (which we as creatives should always be open to), but about your worthiness.
Greater minds than me have busted the myths of artist scarcity (go ahead and give it a Google) and written prolifically on the punishment of success (sometimes referred to as haters gonna hate) so I won’t wax on about these phenomena.
Still, it is an important step to identify these falsehoods for what they are when we hear them and invest some time in learning to recognize which comments come from that voice within.
LEVEL-UP: Create counter-dialogue for whichever criticisms you hear most.
Bummer Dialogue: “I’ve heard it is so rare for books to get picked up, though.”
Counter: “It is hard work, but I’m dedicated and I have a great support system. There are so many avenues to success and I’m on my way!”
Write it down.
You’ve heard this a million times, you’ve maybe even succeeded in doing it once or twice. But when was the last time?
Write down your goals. Now. Again.
Preferably in a place where you can see them, revisit them, and rewrite them (think Bart Simpson at the chalkboard level repetition). However, if all you can do is scribble it on a napkin and throw it away, or jot it down on a post-it and eat it, or pen it out on a scrap and burn it, scattering the ashes of your declared dreams into the wind - that all works too. Just put your pen to paper. Physical paper - not the Notes App in your phone.
Everytime you revisit, change up your language. Get more descriptive. Get more specific and watch your goals turn into actionable items, next steps, standards, and then *poof*, reality.
LEVEL UP: Set an alarm in your phone to come back and rewrite your goals once a week.
Do your research. Find your proof.
One of my favorite interview questions I’ve heard is, “How do you make a PB&J?
The detail in your answer tells the asker all they need to know about how you accomplish a goal. Did you start with gathering ingredients and supplies or did you start with, “Flop the bread on the counter.” That bread didn’t appear out of thin air, homie. Also, what kind of jelly did you grab? Is that peanut butter crunchy or smooth? What kind of knife do you have? Ew, were you just gonna smear it with your fingers? Pass.
Same goes for conquering your author goals. Do you talk about “selling your book” or do you know exactly how much money you’re getting in that negotiation? Do you talk about being a “bestseller” or do you know exactly how many pre-orders and first week sales you want?
And, are you aware of the 18 different jellies to pick from? You may have always dreamed of grape (big-five publisher) but will you recognize the world's finest raspberry preserves if they land in your basket? Okay, we’re a little deep in this metaphor but you get it.
Do your research. Get specific about the journey you dream of, and open your mind and heart to the thousands of opportunities that will get you where you want to go and which are just distractions (ham doesn’t belong on a PB&J even though it makes for a great different sandwich).
LEVEL UP: Remember that the proof is out there. Find role models who have done it already and study how they got to where they are. BONUS: Practice being really, really happy for them.
You’ve written your goals down and done your research on the millions of ways to find your unique form of success and now - it's time.
I’m sorry to be the one to tell you but you have to do it.
No, not write the book.
You have to *gulp* tell people about your goals.
Yes, real live humans who have brains that judge, noses that sneer, and mouths that laugh.
But, those humans also have hearts that root for you, and voices that speak up for you, and hands that open doors you can’t reach.
You may want to “hustle quietly” and shock everyone when you bloom overnight from your secret goal-getting. And that could work, maybe.
But you know what is easier and more fun and energizing? Claiming your fate. Shouting it from the rooftops. Owning it, early and often. Telling people where you intend to go and allowing them to help get you there.
Practice speaking your goals until you are so comfortable that talking about them is as easy as talking about what you ate for breakfast. Text a friend. Post to your close-friends story. Tell your signot or your neighbor or a grocery store clerk or your bestie or whoever will listen. And, if you are still afraid - just tell me. I got your back. I believe in you.
INSPO: Your desires are your universal marching orders. Go after them with everything you got.
Examples of Big Author Dreams.
Quit your day job and make a full-time income from writing.
Get an agent who believes in your work and style.
Sign with a big-five publisher.
Self-publish and find success with complete control over your work.
Launch a writing-related business.
Write a seven-book series.
Get a major movie deal.
Say, “I am an author” without quaking in your boots.
Transform your writing practice to come from a place of joy.
Write a New York Times Bestseller.
Make a million dollars.
Make sixty million dollars.
Make six thousand dollars.
Find your book in your favorite book store.
Have your words taught in a school curriculum.
Be greeted by fans cosplaying your characters.
Speak at that conference.
Go on that book tour.
Lunch date with your favorite author, as colleagues.
Receive fan mail from people whose lives were changed by your words.
Take up space.
Represent people in your work who you really needed in books when you were growing up.
Create something beautiful.
Create something timeless.
Create something you are proud of.
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