Sitting down to write this post, the old adage, shoulda, woulda, coulda, came to mind. We’ve heard it all before… “I could never do that,” “I should have done that ten years ago,” or “It’s too late now.” Regret and unanswered dreams seem to go together, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Sometimes, time is your best friend.
First is the obvious fact that dreaming alone isn’t enough. The bottom line is this… a dream without action is just fantasy. Realizing a dream requires risk, gumption, and perseverance. But, there’s more. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but am happy to share a few insights from my own journey.
Recently, I was a guest on the NOT YOUR AVERAGE GRANDMA podcast with Laurie Wright (listen HERE). Laurie is a coach who inspires people (especially those over 50) to find their SPARK. Talking with her gave me some valuable insight. The key to finally realizing a dream is the WHY. WHY do you want to write children’s books? How important is it? If the intrinsic motivation isn’t there, it simply won’t happen. My WHY? Sharing my passion with children (after all, being rich and famous will never pan out). Finding your own WHY can take a bit of introspection, but will definitely move the process along.
Laurie’s wisdom also helped me discover that the WHEN was a crucial component in my journey. I have always had the desire to write books for kids, but for years it was a dream without action. Combining that crucial WHY with the appropriate WHEN was the answer for me. As soon as my WHEN was right, everything clicked. The correct timing included my life position (empty nest), enough time and mental bandwidth, confidence, and the wisdom that can only come from age. It was important for me to realize that not achieving my dreams earlier was not a failure – I was gaining valuable experience and wisdom that would be beneficial when the time came to write. As I look back, I can see that every step along the way afforded me what I needed to achieve this goal.
In addition to the WHY and the WHEN, there is also the HOW.
One of my biggest hurdles early in life was the fear of failure, feeling unworthy, or looking silly (imposter syndrome). It wasn’t until after my picture book, THIS COULD BE YOU, was published that I started seeing the stark connection between its message for children and my own growth mindset as an author. THIS COULD BE YOU encourages children to shoot for the stars, to go for their dreams, to learn from their struggles, and bounce back.
Authors need those same growth mindset qualities to succeed.
● Negative critiques are an opportunity to learn and improve.
● I’m not published YET means you’re still trying.
● Rejection proves that you are submitting your work and without that you will never get published.
I asked the amazing children’s author, Vivian Kirkfield, for some inspiration. Vivian wrote her first book in her mid-60’s, has several more under her belt, and isn’t stopping any time soon. She said, "It's never too late to follow your dreams because nothing is impossible if you can imagine it," and "The only failure is the failure to keep trying."
That brings me to the WHO. I am positive that I would not have persevered in this business without the support and guidance of the kidlit community – find your people!
So, if you aren’t there YET, don’t despair. As my book says, “Believe. It could be you.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts.Cindy Williams Schrauben lives in central Michigan where she writes books for kids that range from the truly serious to the seriously silly. Before embarking on this path, she held positions as a preschool administrator, teacher, and assistant director of a children’s museum -- always striving to empower kids. When not writing or honing her craft, Cindy might be found dissecting her grandsons’ shenanigans for story ideas, reading on the floor in the bookstore, or eating ice cream… ideally all at once. Her debut picture book was published in 2022 by Cardinal Rule Press and she is a speaker for their Bucket Fillers series of books.