Yesterday, I listened to an online broadcast by the co-creator of, `Chicken Soup for the Soul', Jack Canfield. The radio show was extremely inspiring. Mr. Canfield told the audience how fifteen years ago he had been invited to a `Come-as-You-Are' party, where the guests had to dress, act, and bring things to the party representing how they would like their lives to be five years into the future.
An interesting concept, eh?
So Jack made up some book covers and titles and broadcasted to everyone how he was so successful that he had been booked to make an appearance on the Oprah show. Susan Jeffers who went on to write, `Feel the Fear and do it Anyway', was also a guest at the same party. A number of college students had been booked for the evening to snap pictures of the guests mimicking the awaiting `paparazzi'.
Jack went on to explain how every one of the twenty guests he knew personally [there were 150 in total], went on to achieve great things. And as we all know, he eventually achieved great things himself with the `Chicken Soup for the Soul' series of books.
So as writers, how do we turn a dream into reality like Jack Canfield did?
While I can't speak for everyone, I can tell you how I am on my way to making my own writing dream come true.
As a student on the first counselling course I undertook in 1999, the tutor asked us what our future goals were. I had recently started writing again and attending a local writing group. Although, I had written a lot: short stories and poetry mainly, I had not had or tried to have, anything published at that point.
"I want to see something I've written published!" I said, without thinking too much about it.
What I'd done unwittingly was to voice what was already at the back of my unconscious mind, making it seem more of a reality that a dream.
After that, I got an Internet-ready computer and joined online writing groups, starting to submit my work to various websites. This process kick-started something inside of me and as they say, `Success breeds Success'.
I managed to get several articles and short stories published both online and in print publications, which made me realize that my dream was achievable. A few years later, I wanted to write a book. Who doesn't? Many people say when you mention you have written a book that they have always wanted to write one, sadly, few do.
I'd never written a book before but I had read them, lots of them.
The longest short story I had ever written was around 1,500, now I intended to write a novel of around 60,000 words!
I had a rough plot in my mind: the main characters, a beginning and an ending, but no middle? So how was I going to get from A to B?
Believe it or not, this `backwards plotting' can work very well as it can help the writer to foreshadow important plot points. This concept has continued to work well for me.
I'd like to be able to say that the book practically wrote itself, well it did, almost. But like most writers there were times when I got a little stuck and days when I would have to force myself to sit down at the computer and write whether I felt like it or not. The important thing was to get the book written and then go back and edit and revise.
I breathed a sigh of relief when after six months, I finally typed, `THE END'.
Surely, now the hard work was all over?
The editing and revision process was in some ways harder than writing the book itself, that was a doddle compared to this! But not being one to give up, I ploughed on, finished the final draft to the best of my ability and submitted it to a publisher.
It was published in May of 2006. This year, I shall see the publication of three of my romance novels. Jack Canfield maintains that average people can do extraordinary things.
I don't have any degrees in writing, or journalism experience come to that, but I can put together an article, short story, or novel that people want to read.
I got to where I am as a writer by plodding on, persisting, and excreting bucketsful of perspiration of the brow; truly there is no other way. I am an ordinary person doing something quite extraordinary!
My tips to achieve your writing dream:
1. Vocalize it. Make your dream vocal. If you have never been published and desire to be, then tell someone! By vocalizing your thoughts you are making them real!
2. Visualize it. Imagine yourself [like Jack Canfield did] in five years time. What would you like to be doing? Do you see yourself being the author of a string of novels? Or freelancing for a local newspaper? Or maybe having your work published in a big magazine, like Cosmopolitan or Vogue? Meditate on this daily until this thought becomes a reality for you. Write down your goals and be specific.
3. Venture out. Step out into the unknown and take risks. Okay, you might not have had any articles/stories/poetry published before and think it is a bit cheeky to submit your work to a magazine. But at the end of the day, does it really matter as long as your work is the best you can possibly make it and you've researched the market well? Take a risk and submit it, if you haven't been published before, don't mention it. We all had to start somewhere. Fake it until you make it.
Jack Canfield decided he would like to be an international speaker. He had cards printed saying so, although he hadn't as yet spoken overseas. He chose a country,
The principle behind this is, if you BELIEVE you can do something with all your heart and ACT as though you are what you INTEND to be, then you Will be what you Desire to be someday.
Hear Jack Canfield's inspiring interview here [click on interview for March 22, 2005]: http://www.maxinethompson.com/2005Archives.html
Lynette Rees lives in