When you are little, you’re encouraged to follow your dream.
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
When you ask this question to a child, you’ll hear all sorts of amazing, weird and wonderful answers, from Superhero and Princess, to Premier League Footballer and Prima Ballerina. Nothing is beyond reach.
Then somewhere along the line, you grow up. Reality kicks in and the idea you can follow your dream seems suddenly ludicrous. You have to get a proper job. You have responsibilities, a family, a mortgage and there’s no time in your life for being wistful or fanciful.
Before you know it, you’re at an age when you start to think about those childhood dreams again.
It could be that you reach a milestone age. Your children are older and don’t need you so much anymore. Sometimes, you experience death and tragedy first hand and you begin question your own mortality and purpose on this earth. You want to leave a legacy, feel like you’ve achieved something with your life, have something to show for all those years of hard slog.
You begin to panic a little, wonder if it’s not too late, or if it’s still silly to be thinking about those dreams.
It’s now or never.
You don’t need to wait until the 1st January to make changes in your life. If you want to follow your dream, the one that’s been niggling away at your subconscious all these years, you can start to realise it any time you want to.
- Write down your goals.
- Research what you need to do to achieve them.
- If it requires money, how can you save? If it requires more time, how can you find those extra few minutes a day/week?
- Get the support of your family.
Changes don’t happen overnight, but you can take small steps towards what you really want to achieve and by doing this, you are following your dream. That’s what I did anyway.
I can’t actually say, hand on heart, I never expected 2017 to turn out the way it has done. All I knew was the time had come to stop talking about what I wanted to do and get on and do it.
My priority was to get my book published – that was the dream. I hadn’t thought much beyond that. When I held my book in my hand for the first time, I have to admit, I did shed a tear. Well actually, I blubbed like a baby (I’m not proud to admit it), to the extent I took a wrong turn that ended up in a 45-minute detour to get home (not one of my best moves).
What set me off though, was wondering what my dad would have thought of it. It’s a times like these when you really miss the people who are gone from your life. Not that you don’t miss them at other times, but at special moments, it always makes you feel sad they’re not here to share them with you.
I don’t even know what my dad would have said because he was of the generation where you didn’t get much out of them when it came to ‘feelings’. Even so, I missed not being able to tell him I’d done it. I’d achieved my dream of becoming an author, despite the incredibly long road I’d taken to get there. This is and always will be, one of my greatest achievements.
I didn’t envisage what following my dream would lead to.
Back in July, when I offered to do some workshops for the girls in my daughter’s year, to help them prepare for the creative writing aspect of their forthcoming secondary school entrance exams, I didn’t expect it would go much further than that.
From this, came Storymakers, which has gone on to become a fully-fledged children’s creative writing club.
Since those first sessions in July, I’ve hosted creative writing workshops and story-writing courses for over seventy children. We’ve looked at where ideas come from, how to use our senses when writing and how to break down a story into parts, so it becomes easier and less daunting to write. We’ve created picture book stories, comic strips, scripts for a mini-play and even a book trailer.
My garden studio, the Storymakers HQ, has been a hub of creativity and fun.
I believed in myself and I put myself out there and this is the result. Do you know what? I absolutely love it!
Schools do a great job at teaching children how to read and write, spell and punctuate their work. I would never debate that, or go against it. What I teach the children at Storymakers, only aims to enhance what the children already know, but also to make them realise writing isn’t just about spelling and grammar.
I think sometimes, well often actually, the children I see are afraid to write because they’re worried they might get it wrong. I tell them, just write. In order to write a story, you have to put words on a page. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong, as that can always be corrected. The important thing is to harness that wonderful creative imagination children have and get them to put pen to paper to bring their stories to life.
Writing a story is a creative process and should be seen as such. You can be as proud of your story as you are of a painting or a model you’ve made and I want children to make this connection with writing and other creative arts. I want to continue building and developing the Storymakers club so I can achieve this.
To follow my dream means I’ve opened up possibilities I never knew were there for me. It’s taken my life in a new direction.
As I move into 2018, I have another book launch to look forward to and I have new courses for the Storymakers club that I hope will show the children who come to them, how much fun they can have with their writing. They won’t even realise they are learning!
What are you going to do in order to follow your dream?