How to Chase Your Dreams While Still Living In Reality

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a writer in some form or fashion, whether it was articles, novels, or (as I’d later find) screenplays. I just loved telling stories and creating characters that could practically jump off the page and come to life. I loved thinking up story ideas and then letting the story take me on a journey to a place I may have never intended it to go.

When I was a child, I started writing short stories, manageable little chunks for my young mind to explore the possibilities of creating worlds outside my own. By my teenage years, I was freelance writing for a Milwaukee magazine and working on my first novel (which I never finished). As it turned out, it was just a 100 page rant about high school – teenage angst at its finest.

By age 19, I got really into screenplays and wrote my first one titled FOUR THE MONEY. Afterwards, my older brother and I co-wrote six additional feature length screenplays. We queried and queried, and were rejected over and over.

I decided to switch gears and over the next few years, I focused on freelance writing for a number of websites and small businesses – writing everything from articles, to product descriptions, to email newsletters, to radio commercial scripts, blogs, and more. My first job out of college was as a copywriter and digital marketer. I was still doing freelance writing on the side, but it expanded from simply writing to include social media and website management.

I left that position a year later, and was earning a full-time living between several freelance writing and social media jobs. After a year of working from home doing solely freelance, I was contacted about an opening for a Social Media Manager position at a Fortune 500 company, with the opportunity to work on some of the most well-known household brands in the world; and I jumped at the opportunity. Although, I loved working from home every day with my English bulldog, Winston, setting my own hours, and being my own boss, it was lonely – and I wanted to be around other like-minded people who loved creating content, managing social media, and writing just as much as I did.

I did get the job and I loved/love it, but there was still something missing in my life. I had this burning desire to write – but not just anything… a book. I had always dreamed of writing a book (it was even on my bucket list), but I never believed I actually could. It seemed so daunting – hundreds of pages of the written word. Would it be good? Would I finish? Would it even make sense? I knew none of those questions would be answered unless I actually tried. But how would I do it? I was working full-time, I still had a freelance job, I had plans, I had friends and family, I didn’t have time. The excuses kept piling up.

However, I knew that with any dream, there would be sacrifices. Sure, I’d be tired. I’d have to give up nights and weekends. I’d have to cancel plans with friends and family. I’d probably be a bit of a recluse. But this was my dream. I wanted to write a book and I was going to do it.

I had small daily writing goals during the week – 500 words per day was pretty typical. I’d write before and after work, and then on weekends, I’d have huge goals of 5000-10,000 words. I kept at this, and when I wasn’t writing or plotting my book, I was reading – anything and everything I could get my hands on. Yes, it was tiring – working full-time during the day and then writing full-time on nights and weekends.

When working towards any dream, you still have to live in reality. You have to earn a living.  You have to work even harder. You have to struggle. You have to make sacrifices. There is no magic formula for writing a book. You sit down in front of a blank word document and you take it page by page, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, and word by word. If you love what you’re doing, it won’t feel like work – it’ll feel like you’re living your dream, while you’re working towards it.

Three months after I started writing my first book, I finished it. I finished fast, because I worked fast, putting in several 10,000 word writing days. Then, I began querying for months and months – and the rejections came pouring in. It was disheartening, but I learned that my dream wasn’t just to write a book, it was to be a published writer. And if I wanted to be a published writer, I’d have to keep writing, regardless of the amount of rejections. This realization didn’t happen overnight. It actually occurred to me about 10 months later when I was mulling over the idea of rewriting my first book, quitting altogether, or starting a second.

I ultimately decided to write my second book and began writing it as a part of National Novel Writing Month in November 2017. I pretty much stopped querying my first book and put all my effort into writing what would later be called TIL DEATH DO US PART. I completed my second book in technically 3 months (although, I took 6 weeks off of writing between December and mid-January).

By the beginning of March, I was ready to query again and thankfully, this time around wasn’t like the first. I had full requests and multiple offers of representation within two weeks. It was an incredible feeling to have others believe in my work, and I literally had to keep reminding myself that it was real, that it was actually happening.

While I wait to see where my book will end up, I’m working full-time as a Social Media Manager, and I’m writing my next book IF LOOKS COULD KILL on nights and weekends. I’m still chasing my dream of becoming a published writer, while living in reality – and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love my job, I love my dream, and I’m lucky enough to have them both.

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