Notice how I capitalized and placed emphasis on that? That’s because I AM, regardless of what others said, say, or will say. I tell you that because your interest in reading this is likely a result of your own desire to write for children. I commend you. When done right, it’s certainly far more difficult than the uninformed realize, but, it is attainable.
Provided you can get past this 1st roadblock.
IF you’re going to have even the remotest possibility of being a successful children’s book author, YOU have to believe that you are one. There’s too much adversity between you and the finish line to succeed without believing in yourself. And no, I’m not talking about the random “success” that comes with a lucky book that rockets you to stardom overnight. I’m talking about the continual success that comes after the mentally strenuous effort of committing yourself to learning this craft and honing your skills. I’m talking about the success that comes AFTER repeatedly getting knocked down, belittled and doubted, but being brave enough to fight your way back to your feet so that you can keep trying.
Full disclosure, I have dozens of publications, both traditional and independent, so it’s easier now for me to back up my claim of being a children’s book author & illustrator. But, in the beginning, during the “dark and mysterious” time when I began this rewarding but arduous journey, I was weary to announce to people what I did. I was embarrassed, actually. Terrified, even. I had a dream, but I allowed the 1st roadblock to keep me from it. I felt I needed the validation of publications, widespread success, and large paychecks. Worse, I felt I needed the acceptance of people (random, family and/or friends) because (what follows is sarcasm) who better to judge me than people who aren’t, in most cases, chasing their own dreams?
So, I wrote in secret. I illustrated in secret. I published in secret. Only, because I wasn’t all in, I lazily chased my dream and, as a result, failed myself. I don’t want this to be you. YOU don’t want this to be you. That’s why I’m imploring you to get over this 1st roadblock and move pass the mental block holding up a world full of dreamers who are failing to act.
My own never ending war to prove myself a writer and gain acceptance drained me. It drained me so much that I didn’t have the energy to write, which made me feel guilty, which drained me of more energy, which, as you can probably see, spiraled into self-pity and doubt. Fortunately, I’m driven by wanting to prove people wrong, so the doubt of others has fueled me on and helped me climb out of my self-inflicted dungeon. Which isn’t to say it’s a healthy mindset or one I recommend you should follow. If I could go back and speak to my earlier self, I would tell him to smile more and to chase his dreams sooner rather than later. I would tell him that, no, he wasn’t talented enough yet, but that he would one day be IF he kept learning and growing, so to stick to it and push through it despite the opinions of others.
You see, believing you need everyone’s acceptance is unfair. If YOU put effort towards writing, meaning YOU do the work to see a project through to completion, YOU should be able to consider yourself a writer without fear of what others will say.
The simple fact that you’re reading this tells me that you, at the very least, have an inkling of interest in writing for children. My advice is to do just that, write for children. Toss aside the doubt and need for acceptance and write for them with consistency and with confidence. Then consider yourself a writer, and go forward giving it your all. You and I will meet up somewhere along the way, and we’ll toast our success.
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