It took me about one second to decide who I owe this post to. Because there's no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be here if she hadn't given me a good firm shove.
Rewind to five years ago. Phone conversation with a friend from grade school. Me: I really want to start writing again. But I don't have the time. Kyra: Um. Do you have fifteen minutes a day? Me: Fifteen minutes? Her: Yes, fifteen minutes. Can you honestly say you don't have fifteen lousy minutes? Me: I see your point.
She ordered me to sit at my computer for the allotted time every day, even if all I did was stare at a blank screen. She also suggested I start with free writing, where you don't stop to edit or agonize or plot. You just write. Even if all you manage to type is "I can't think of one single thing to write."
And you know what? It worked. Fifteen minutes turned into half an hour, which turned into many hours, working late into the night after my day job was done and my daughter was asleep. I finished a YA fantasy novel about a year later, found an agent, and started writing a new one while the first was out on submission (being repeatedly drop-kicked). And miracle of miracles, then I sold the new one, which comes out this summer.
The moral? All it takes is one supportive person to change your life. One! I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a fiction writer, I'd always wanted to, but my dream got sidetracked somewhere along the way. I had every excuse in the book why now was not the right time to fit another thing into my already insane schedule. Know the feeling?
But I just couldn't argue with that fifteen minutes a day. I mean, I spend at least fifteen minutes Googling things like "Aquaman Patrick Duffy theme song" and "celebrities plastic surgery disaster" and "biggest YA novel advances 2014" and *cough* other important research-type stuff. I can cut back on the crazy if I have a really good reason to.
Your own dream may not be writing a book. It might be painting or cooking gourmet vegan meals or reanimating the corpse of a seven-and-a-half-foot-long, fifty-four-inch-wide gorilla. That's okay. It doesn't matter.
What matters is that when the voice of encouragement comes along—and it will, in the form of an old friend, or a co-worker, or a random stranger on an airplane—you listen to it. It might even be your own voice, the one that's soft and timid and that you don't pay much attention to, or that gets shouted down by the other voices, the ones that are scared or broke or just lazy. Listen to that soft voice for a change.
Oh, and you'll know if whatever-it-is is the thing you're supposed to be doing with your life if it makes you feel like this: