6 Life Lessons from 6 Months Living My Dream as a Writer
Six months ago today, I saw a white feather while walking on the beach, and I took it as a sign.
Immediately, I got home and wrote my first article in years. I submitted it to Weeds & Wildflowers, who — happily — accepted the article.
In that article, I wrote:
“It’s 20 years since I realised that my calling is to be a writer. And while I’ve written a ton professionally, I’ve also spent most of my time waiting for the ‘writer’s bus’ to arrive, to take me to the place where I feel with certainty ‘you’re a writer’.
“Now I’ve realised, there is no writer’s bus. It’s up to me to take the first step and to keep walking.”
Since taking that first step six months ago, I’ve written and published over 150 articles, short stories, and poems.
Six months have flown by in a whisper. So, what have I learned during this six-month period of living my writing dream?
Lesson 1 — Trust the signs, even the fragile ones
The white feather on the beach stood out to me because it’s the sign that one of my favorite writers, Paulo Coelho, follows.
In his late thirties — a similar age to myself — Coelho made a pledge to himself: when he saw a white feather, he’d write his first novel.
Then it happened, Coelho saw the feather. Immediately, he sat down to write. He poured out the first draft of his novel in two weeks of furious typing. It’s a novel you’ve likely heard of — The Alchemist — as it became a global phenomenon. Coelho is now the most translated living author and his books have sold over 350 million copies worldwide.
Coelho still waits to see a white feather before he starts writing.
A White Feather — the Sign You’ve Been Waiting For?
After 20 years, it’s time to stop dreaming and start taking action.
When I came across the white feather six months ago, I saw it as a fragile prompting. I wasn’t sure if it meant much. But ultimately, it has persisted. I’m glad I was paying attention to the signs.
Lesson 2 — I love (and need) community
My biggest lesson has been that I need community to sustain me.
I started my journey by hiring a writing coach, Zulie Rane. Zulie taught me the basics of how to submit to publications and the types of writing that are popular on particular platforms.
When I submitted my first ever article to the publication Weeds & Wildflowers, I was welcomed with open arms by the editor, Dennett. The warmth I received from Dennett and the community in this publication encouraged me to keep writing and publishing. The more I published, the more I started interacting with other writers.
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I’m now in touch with other writers daily. This contact is vital for my morale, especially when I’m feeling demotivated. Writing is an emotional rollercoaster.
My writer friends also help me feel seen as a writer. I know that a small community has my back and that everything I write will be read by somebody.
The friendships I’ve made through my writing have been a tremendous surprise. Friendship wasn’t my goal when I started — it wasn’t even on my mind.
When I began, my goal was to start writing, submit to publications, and discover readers for my words. But friendship is what keeps me writing, it’s what sustains me.
Lesson 3— I don’t just love writing — I love wordplay and poetry
I thought I only wanted to write articles, short stories, and maybe a novel one day. I never imaged that poetry would start flowing from my fingertips.
Honestly, I find much poetry impenetrable. But I’ve found poems published in publications like Weeds & Wildflowers, and The POM, click with me. When I understand a poem, and it touches my soul, it gives me a “wow!” feeling.
Feeling that I can understand poetry prompted me to start writing and sharing my own poems. It’s a great feeling when my wordplay touches other people’s hearts.
Lesson 4— I‘ve let go of perfectionism by seeing writing as an experiment
I’ve treated my writing over the past few months as an experiment. Seeing my articles in this way prevents me from getting caught up in perfectionism.
I’m not trying to write perfect pieces. I aim to write good articles, then I observe what happens with them. I pay attention to what connects with my audience. When an article gets a positive response, I see that as a sign that readers would like to see more articles like that.
This experiment has also been about observing myself, and how I feel when writing and publishing particular articles.
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I had assumed that if I put too much of myself into my articles — my story and my voice — it would turn readers away.
I’ve found the opposite. Readers want to hear about me, and they want to read writing that’s in my own voice. That’s encouraged me to pour my soul into my writing, and to share the darker aspects of my personal story.
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I’ve felt affirmed and encouraged by the positive responses I’ve received when opening up in this way.
Lesson 5 — Writing re-shapes my life story and how I see myself
In looking over my life for article ideas, I now see that my life is a treasure trove of stories. I love diving deep into my personal history and finding significant moments. As I’ve done that, I’ve come to see my life in a new way.
The act of telling my story re-shapes how I see my own biography. I was reluctant to call the white feather I saw on the beach a few months ago a sign. I felt gimmicky in using that wording — I didn’t really believe in signs. But now, looking back through my story, I see signs that have guided my life, by chance happenings, by twists of destiny that were far beyond my control and that I could never have seen coming.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of believing we’re the authors of our lives, when, in truth, we’re characters in a greater story.
We have far less control than we imagine we do. To realize this is both terrifying and liberating. I no longer need to push towards goals.
I can allow myself to become, flowing like a river.
Lesson 6 — Creating art is my spiritual practice
My final soul discovery has been that creativity, for me, is a spiritual practice.
I was brought up in a faith tradition, but I never got into daily scripture reading or became a prayer warrior. In recent years I’ve been meditating, which has opened my soul and created new space for spirit in my life.
Writing is now an extension of this spirituality, it’s my way to brush my fingertips across the deepest realities of the universe. I don’t see this deep truth as a reality that can be grasped in an intellectual sense, and certainly not put into words. Rather, it’s a mystical experience — one that I feel when I’m writing, and that I hope to convey through my writing.
You can live your creative dreams — so, start today
I wanted to write creatively for years — decades even — and for all this time, the dream eluded me. Now I am living this dream in a different — but deeper and richer — way than I ever imagined.
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In my first ever article, I wrote the following — as much as a reminder to myself as anything. It has proved prophetic in my journey to become a writer, and if you long to be an artist of any kind, I encourage you to follow these words of guidance for the path ahead:
“The best thing you can do is build something. Make a small shift in your life. Start something new, and stick with it.
“Your time is now. It’s time to stop waiting, and start being. Live the life you know you are meant to live. Be the person you know you are meant to be. Start writing, drawing, singing, dancing — whatever dream calls you, the time to start is now.:
Writing pushes me to be my best self. If you dream of writing — or being a creator in any way — I wish you joy and strength for every step of the journey.
May you begin, today.