By Ruth Barringham
As a writer, you no doubt envisioned what your ideal life would be like once you were a successful writer. You could visualise your future dream life. Or could you?
Did you ever, at any stage of your life, sit down and imagine what your dream life would be like? Did you see the house you’d be living in, the life you’d be living and the writing you’d be doing?
I started thinking about this a few weeks ago after talking to a local man in the town where I live.
He’s around 60 years old and lives in a shed that he rents on someone’s acreage property a few miles out of town. The shed is supposedly “liveable” but I know that he sleeps on a mattress on the floor and has no TV because the shed is off-grid and he doesn’t have much electricity because he only has one solar panel which is why he can’t run a television. He also is divorced, has no family close by, no friends except for his ageing dog, no job and lives off disability welfare payments due to his ill health.
And it got me to thinking, is he living his dream life? Did he envision living in a shed with very little electricity and being lonely and having hardly any money due to his previous bad living that caused him to have two heart attacks? Was this how he wanted his life to end up?
Or did he just let life “happen” without ever working towards an end goal, a dream life?
And then I started thinking about other people I know too.
There is a house in my neighbourhood where several single people live, all sharing the rent. None of them are young and all of them are unemployed and scrape by on very little money. Yet they seem to be in no hurry to change anything with each of them sticking to their own designated bedroom and describing the main living area as “no man’s land” because no one uses it. So I doubt that any of them are living their dream life either.
And there are dozens of older, single people here (that I know of, so there are probably lots more) who seem to be doing nothing in particular and simply go for walks or sit on the benches on the main street and chat to everyone they know, and even those they don’t know. There is even one man who hangs around the town centre waiting for anyone with a dog to go by so that he can pat it.
And I think to myself, is this their dream life? Have they achieved most of the things they wanted to do in life, and are they now exactly where they always wanted to be? I doubt it.
I also know a woman who loves to write and she’s written dozens of book manuscripts, some of them over 100,000 words each. But she won’t publish them or even let anyone read them because, she says, she’s not interested in anyone else’s opinion of her work. So she keeps it hidden for fear of ridicule or rejection and pushes away her chance of Living The Writer’s Life.
And there are so many other people in the world who have dreams for their life and what they want to do. But sadly, their dreams are finite. They dream of winning a million dollars, or going to Disneyland, or touring Europe, or having 3 children, or a big house.
The problem with these finite dreams is that they end suddenly, so even if they achieve their dream, then what? If they win a million dollars or have 3 kids and a big house, what then?
It’s like people who dream of winning the lotto and then they do, and for a while they’re happy, buying a house, a car, going on holiday. But then it stops. They’ve achieved their dream and now they have nothing left to dream about. It happens all the time.
So I started looking at my own life.
My dream life has always been to be a writer, and it’s an infinite dream because I want to write all the time. And it doesn't matter where I live or if I have a family or not or how much money I have or what sort of car I drive or where I go for my holidays, I would still write no matter what.
I’ve also already achieved other dreams of having a family and I love how and where I live.
And my writing is an ongoing process so my ideal life will never end because I will always want to do my writing, sewing, growing food, walking on the beach at night and spending time with loved ones. These are all things that I dream of doing all the time, and I’m constantly achieving them.
So how is your dream life?
Are you living your dream life as a writer?
Writing (or being a writer) means prioritising it and making the time to do it every day instead of it being something you do in your spare time.
I prioritise everything that is important to me so that I always have plenty of time for them all.
There’s a book I like called Persuasion Secrets of the World’s Most Charismatic & Influential Villains and in it, it says to decide what your biggest “mission” is and put it on a pedestal above everything else. And ignore everyone who says you can’t do it or it won’t work. There are so many people who want to be negative about anything you want to do and as soon as you say that you have a mission, they seem to appear out of everywhere to tell you how wrong you are.
If anyone won’t support you, stay away from them. I’d rather be alone and writing than be with those who don’t support what I do. Some people even seem confused when I tell them that I don’t want to spend time with them because I’m writing.
Recently I was reading an article about 3 steps to getting closer to God. It said to pray for guidance and admit that you need to change and ask for help in doing so. Next, meditate and look at what you’re currently doing and look at ways you can turn your life around. And thirdly, consider who you associate with and think about spending less time with those who don’t support you and your beliefs.
And I thought what great advice that is for being a successful writer. And if you’re not religious in any way, just swap the word ‘pray’ for ‘ask the universe’ or something else more appropriate for your own beliefs.
And when I talk about being a successful writer, I mean making money from your writing, or even better, earning all your income from your writing.
Of course, there are those who like to tell me that I’m wrong and that not everyone who writes wants to make money from it. But to them I always say, “if someone offered to pay you a million dollars for one of your articles, would you sell it?” Of course they would. Who wouldn’t?
So if you want to live your dream life as a successful writer, put your writing first and let everything else fall into line behind it. I don’t mean that you should shirk your other responsibilities. On the contrary, whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, always. Just keep your writing high in your list of priorities. Think about it often and organise your day so that you always have time to write.
When my kids were young, I used to do my writing at night once they were asleep. Sometimes I’d also grab time to write while they were napping in the afternoon. But I NEVER let anything or anyone interfere or take away my evening writing time. I prioritised, guarded it like a Mama bear guarding her cub, and always loved forward to my alone time in the evenings when I could write.
If you want to write but can never seem to find the time, try this:
Think about the 5 things that you spend most of your time doing every day, and those things are your top priorities now, no matter what you tell yourself. They are the things that are most important to you.
If you’re spending hours every day checking emails, watching TV, gossiping, or eating, these are your priorities and not your writing.
What you need to do is change things around and make your writing a daily priority so that you can begin living your dream life as a writer.