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  • Citadel: First Colony
    Citadel: First Colony
  • Citadel: Paths in Darkness
    Citadel: Paths in Darkness
  • Tin Man
    Tin Man
  • College Made Stupid Simple
    College Made Stupid Simple
  • A Little Bit of Everything
    A Little Bit of Everything
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Books in Print
  • Citadel: First Colony: Book One of the Citadel Trilogy
    Citadel: First Colony: Book One of the Citadel Trilogy
  • Citadel: Paths in Darkness (Volume 2)
    Citadel: Paths in Darkness (Volume 2)
  • College Made Stupid Simple: A guide to getting more than a diploma
    College Made Stupid Simple: A guide to getting more than a diploma

Entries in blessings (1)

Tuesday
Apr232013

dreamification 

I recently started listening to Quitter, an audio book by Jon Acuff. I'm not far along with it yet, maybe around chapter 2 or 3. But I've already heard some things that have me thinking (always a good sign). I'm kind of impressed by the fact that his path to becoming a writer is pretty close to the path I took. I can learn a lot from the guy, I think.

At the moment I'm reading about "rediscovering your dream." Acuff draws a nice distinction between "finding" your dream and "rediscovering" it. Chances are you probably already knowsomewhere in your brain, among the pop culture references and all that useless "job" stuff you have to remember—exactly what you love to do. Writing, interior design, business accounting (really?), landscaping, public speaking, teaching ... You get the idea. It's probably something you did, at least in small part, when you were a kid. It's likely the kind of thing that was "beaten out of you" by the "real world" and "helpful advisors" and other stuff I have to put in "air quotes" because they're such "stupid reasons" to give up on something you love.

Look, I get it. Sometimes the dream is just that. It's something impractical. Something that won't pay the bills. So you can't justify dropping everything and pursuing it full time. You have to make a living, that's a given.

God really blessed me. My dream happened to click conveniently with a career path. Unfortunately I spent most of my career being too stubborn to realize that was the case. I fought to be everything but the thing I'd dreamt of being. I spent some of that time avoiding writing as a career path because I didn't want to "soil the dream." Big news flash, Kev—dreams packed in a box might be clean, but they also get kind of musty.

Later I spent a lot of time being irritated that, despite the fact that I could make a living as a writer, I wasn't writing what I WANTED to write. I was being "forced into a mold" as a writer. I started writing copy for ad agencies and clients so I could keep food on the table, and I didn't feel like it was a creative venue. It felt crushing at times. I hated it at times. If this was "writing for a living," I didn't want it!

Then I wrote a few things on the side. A book, at first. Then another. And some articles. Some blog posts (oh the blog posts). Here I was able to stretch my legs a bit as a writer by spending some of my time outside of the office doing more of what I was doing inside the office. Different focus, sure. Different results. Different all around. And yet ...

Funny thing, suddenly my outside writing was getting better. I was becoming better at noticing flaws, fixing errors, spotting flubs. I've never been a very good copy editor. Not patient enough. But I have gotten better at it over the years, and largely thanks to the copywriting jobs I've held. Trust me, lose a copywriting job because of your editing skills and you suddenly start to pay more attention to typos and grammar goofs.

So my inside writing was starting to change and improve my outside writing. But wait ... there's more!

I was spending more of my outside time writing the stuff I love. Fiction, mostly, but I discovered I kind of enjoyed writing non-fiction, too. I liked writing blog posts that were useful and helpful. I liked contributing something to the world through my writing, and because I was focused more on that I also started focusing more on doing that work to the best of my ability. What good would it be to write something helpful if it's full of typos and goofs? 

Granted ... I'm STILL plagued by typos and goofs. But I've dedicated myself to learning from each one, and fighting hard to avoid those mistakes in the future. I have gotten better. Much better.

And then I started noticing another something weird. My inside writing was starting to improve. The "fun" outside writing I was doing, that work I was pouring my passion and heart into, was suddenly becoming a means of honing and improving my inside writing. 

My headlines became funnier and more effective. My body copy became more concise and influential. My ability to organize my thoughts became razor-honed. Heck, my ability to turn out copy fast, with ever-increasing deadlines, was a direct result of the fact that I was doing more outside writing, trying to cram as much into the short gaps between work and passing out from exhaustion as I could. Thanks to my outside writing, my inside writing was becoming more polished and professional. And people were starting to notice.

It helps to know that writing is that thing I love to do, and will likely always love doing. It helps to know that my dream is still there, still intact, still serving me.

You probably have a dream, too. It's likely to be something you loved doing as a kid, but put aside by the time you finished college or started your career. Maybe you loved to dance. Maybe you loved painting. Maybe you loved counting seeds in a sunflower. Doesn't matter what you loved, it only matters that you loved it.

And here's where dreams meet reality: You may not be able to make a living from following your dream. That's true. It's very rare that people become highly paid painters or sunflower seed counters. However, that doesn't mean your dream can't fuel you to success.

Excellence breeds excellence. Accomplishment breeds accomplishment. Doing something that energizes you on the outside can give you greater strength and fuel for becoming outstanding at what you do on the inside.