I’ve been slow about responding to emails, but I found one last night that I started to reply to…and then decided it would make a pretty good blog post, too.
The question was basically this: Did I blindly follow my passions? Or did I get so good at something I basically could not be ignored, and kept a back-up plan in check?
It was basically all three of those things — going for broke, having a plan, and being in the right place at the right time. I agree that “going for what you love” is a bit simplistic, but what I’ve also found is that passion is a huge motivating force behind all planning. If you’re passionate about something — writing, being a doctor, whatever — you can always find a way to integrate that into your life. No one can promise that you’ll be able to make a living from that passion, but it’s all worth taking seriously.
I suppose, then, there are some things to keep in mind. This doesn’t just apply to writing or the arts, either.
1. Let passion fuel you. Don’t dial it down, just because it’s “out there” or not what others think is a worthwhile use of time. If you’re passionate about words, or medicine, or taking care of animals…whatever…use it, use it, and love it.
2. Be self-aware about what you know and don’t know…in other words, you have to be confident enough in your passion to not be turned off by rejection, but humble and self-aware enough to realize that you’ll always have something to learn.
3. Keep learning, keep developing and evolving your passion. Don’t let it stagnate. Research, experiment, get your hands dirty. Dream, but also do. This is part of the planning process, which usually is an organic extension of all these dreams and actions, and studying. In other words: Get to living!
4. Be flexible about the opportunities that come your way (don’t reject something outright just because it isn’t exactly what you want) and always look for opportunities. Be prepared to make your own, as well — be prepared to take a risk, a chance, in defiance of what others will tell you is the proper path. Your gut, your instincts, are the map.
5. Mind your manners. This is important, folks. Plenty of not-so-nice people do quite well, but why be one of them? If you’re going to succeed, try doing so with a good heart.
That’s it for now. What do you think is essential to success?
I’m giving away three signed copies of The Iron Hunt, so leave a note in the comments to enter! I’ll choose the winners tomorrow (and it’s open to anyone in the world, so don’t be shy).