Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Believe in Your Dreams

My YA novel, Dear Dylan, has just been published in France. When I first saw the cover I cried - in a very good way! The girl on the front is exactly as I pictured the main character, Georgie, and, to me, the cover also really captures the sense of hope Georgie feels by the end of the book. On a more personal level, seeing my first French book cover was another affirmation that dreams really can come true - if you believe they can.

French edition of Dear Dylan

When I was younger I suffered from a serious lack of confidence. Although I dreamt of one day becoming a writer, I could never quite believe I was capable of achieving this dream. To the point where I even dropped out of university. Ever since I've found the courage to believe in myself I've worked hard at trying to help others do the same - running workshops, giving talks and through individual coaching. What follows below is a guest post I wrote for the fabulous A Life Bound By Books as part of a recent blog tour. It is a summary of the key exercises and tips I use in my workshops on achieving dreams and I hope you find them useful...

In Dear Dylan, the main character, Georgie, dreams of one day becoming an actress. But, due to difficulties at home, she is finding it incredibly difficult to pursue her dream.

In real life, I really admire people who never give up on their hopes and dreams, no matter what obstacles they face. I wanted to create a character who was like this, in the hope that she would inspire readers to follow her example and keep chasing their own dreams – whatever they may be.

I often run workshops on achieving dreams and today I’d like to share with you some of the key tips and exercises from these workshops:

  • The first thing you need to do is get your inner gremlin to shut up. Your inner gremlin is that really annoying voice in your head that says things like, ‘Don’t be so stupid – you can’t write’, the minute you decide that you’d like to be a novelist. Or, ‘How could you ever be a [INSERT DREAM JOB OF CHOICE]? You’re not nearly good / pretty / clever enough.’ The important thing to remember is that this ‘gremlin’ is only the voice of your fears. But all too often we give it way too much power. So, from now on, the minute your inner gremlin starts saying mean things to you, I want you to picture it as a tiny, scared, little baby and visualise sticking a dummy in its mouth to make it be quiet!
  • Pursuing a dream always takes confidence, so it’s really important that you feel good about yourself before you set out to write that book, or train to become a rocket scientist, or whatever it is you dream of doing. A fun exercise, that can seem tough at first, is to write a list of all the things that you are proud of about yourself. If it makes it easier, try breaking it into categories based upon the roles you play in your life. What are you proud of achieving at school or work? What are you proud of doing as a sister or daughter? Or friend? What are you proud of doing for yourself? Once it’s done, keep a hold of your list to take out and read whenever you’re having a down moment – or you need to shut up that gremlin.
  • This next one is best done when you’re not going to be interrupted – and an accompanying supply of chocolate works very well too. Under the title ‘My Perfect Day’ write as much as you can about what your perfect day would involve. Ideally it should be set after you have achieved your dream. Go right through from the moment you wake up – Where would it be? What would you do first? What would you have for breakfast? What would you wear? – to the moment you go to sleep that night. And in between make sure you provide loads of nice detail about your dream life.
  • The next stage of this exercise is to set manageable goals towards one day achieving this dream life. In other words, if your dream is to one day be a novelist, but at the moment you haven’t even got an idea for a book, then maybe your first (and manageable) goal could be to spend a few hours brainstorming ideas. Once you’ve achieved that goal, and settled upon an idea, you could set a new goal to flesh out some characters. Then your next goal could be to write the very first chapter, and so on. I did this exercise several years ago, and now I’ve written seven novels – so anything’s possible!
  • Creating a motivational playlist can really help you get fired up for pursuing your dream. It’s also another great way to silence that gremlin. The minute it starts bitching and moaning, press play and crank the volume right up. Dancing around the room can also help – air guitar optional!

Back when I was a teenager I had so little confidence in my writing abilities I actually dropped out of university. It took me ten years to finally find the courage to write my first book. I really wish I’d been more like Georgie in Dear Dylan and had more self belief when I was younger. So to anyone reading this who is allowing their inner gremlin a little too much air-time, please don’t make the same mistake I did. Believe in yourself and chase after that dream…


  1. Siobhan we could be twins!! Beautiful post! Thanks for being so real! Hugs!

  2. I know! I thought that exact same thing when I visited your site! We even both use loads of exclamation points!! And you're very welcome...