Like most kids, I had a dream. Before I turned thirteen I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I had it all planned out. I was going to sit in my secluded mountain home, write bestselling novels, and enjoy success.
This was before I became a Christian, before I’d ever written a novel, and before I found out that writing is actually hard work.
And as I grew up, I did what most of us do. I continued to dream, I learned that becoming an author was a legitimate passion, and I went about making this dream come true in the most logical ways.
I also learned that following your dreams isn’t a specific formula, and putting them in a box can hinder you. And one day, allowing myself to write the exact opposite of what I thought I was supposed to write, taught me not to put my dream in a box.
Making Unnecessary Assumptions
Whatever your dream is, making assumptions about exactly which way to go about it stuffs you into that same box. Once I became a Christian (in my 20s), I was excited and wanted to share my faith any way possible. I also assumed since I was a Christian, I’d better write Christian fiction. But my passion was writing romance—clean romance, mind you, but it was hard to reconcile the two. I also enjoyed writing YA and to me, that just didn’t have a place in Christian fiction.
So I wrote contemporary stories and pushed myself into a box without realizing I was working against my passion. I literally woke up one day and had an epiphany. I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write. So I wrote a YA urban fantasy (which was completely out of my comfort zone) but I loved it, and I found an agent because of it, and it proved to me that assuming my dream should fit into a box was a mistake.
Thinking You Can’t Make a Difference
When I started seriously pursuing publication, and entering contests and such, I had a panic moment. “I’m not writing anything that’s going to make a difference!” So naturally, I thought I’d better write women’s fiction or a coming of age story or something that was going to resonate with readers. Something they’d read and say, “Wow, I’m never going to be the same again.”
But hey, let’s face it, we’re not all meant to write these kinds of stories or win Pulitzers or travel to the moon. I used to be embarrassed to tell people I write romance, and then that I write YAs. It took a good part of my writing journey, and truly believing in my passion, to realize that you reach readers with YOU, not a genre. Your job or your dream doesn’t wholly define you, it’s how you do that job and live that dream that makes a difference.
Setting Time Limits
Another way to box in your dreams is by setting time limits or saying you can only go the traditional route. I remember hosting a women’s group for our church and telling the women I wanted to be published by the time I was thirty. They all kind of chuckled, most of them were older than me, and I didn’t see what was so wrong with wanting to accomplish my dream in a timely manner.
But you know what? Dreams are limitless. Don’t tell yourself you’re too old, or if you don’t reach your goal by a certain time it’s hopeless. As a writer, there is a ton of patience involved. It’s great to set goals, but sometimes our plan isn’t God’s plan. We don’t want to miss out on something because it didn’t happen within our time frame.
All this to say, God doesn’t work within boundaries. He can make good things happen at anytime and in any place. So if you have a dream you know He’s placed on your heart, you don’t have to work within the boundaries either. I’m still learning every day to trust in this idea, but my journey so far has shown that it’s true.
Cindy is a wife, and mother of three dramatic girls, which gives her ample material for her young adult stories. She is represented by Katherine Boyle of Veritas Literary Agency and loves connecting with other writers and readers at www.cindyrwilson.com.