Learning From People Who Have Changed Their Lives

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to mentor some beginning writers at a writing conference at the University of Missouri, Columbia. (Yes, this is the same place that has been in the news all week because of the student who was on a hunger strike, the football team refusing to play, and the president resigning.) At the wonderful conference, put on by the Columbia Writer's Guild and Mizzou Publishing, I was also lucky to hear Colin Wright speak. This 30-year-old entrepreneur from Columbia is living what he preaches--he was unhappy with his fast-paced, California business life right out of college (Missouri State), and so he changed his life. And he told us how he did it--you know he sold his stuff, moved, started a blog, wrote books.

But what was amazing to me, and what is amazing to me with many of these stories, is how one day a person decided:

I'm unhappy. This is not the life I want.

And then he or she has a plan and puts it into action.

Colin wasn't saying that everything he tried worked. But what he was saying loud and clear to us several times was that he is supporting himself with his books, which he self-published and then started his own publishing company with friends. He works hard; he markets; he comes up with new and innovative ideas for book events. All of us could do this or something like this that fits our lives and dreams.

Again the big point I took away from his talk was--he wanted change and he got it.

After he told us his story, he shared with us several tips he followed to start living his dream. I honestly can't remember every tip he had, and that's not important either. But what I do remember is that he was talking mostly about priorities. He doesn't believe the excuse--I don't have time to write. I don't have time to change.

And he's correct. We all have time--it's about our priorities. And don't beat yourself up if your priorities are your family instead of being a bestselling author. That's okay. But be honest with yourself and stop beating yourself up. Ask yourself: what is my priority? Is there something (like Netflix) that is taking up my time and is not a priority for me?

If you want change and it's a priority, there will be time.

We live in a world that is uncertain. I think this morning that fact is more in our face than ever with the recent world events. Find someone you respect, who has recently changed his/her life (if you are looking for change, that is)--I'm choosing Colin Wright, but you may find someone else--and ask this person how he/she did it. Just have a conversation. You don't have to do exactly what he or she did. You may not be able to. But remember the biggest piece of advice I took away from Colin's talk: if something is a priority for you, you will find the time and a way to make this happen in your life. 

What do you want your life to look like? How does writing play a part?

Margo L. Dill is the author of three books for kids from preK to 12th grade. You can find out more about her and her books at http://www.margodill.com.  She also teaches classes for WOW!, which you can check out in our classroom here


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Sometimes I have good priorities in place, and they rule. I write. I revise. I spend time at critique, when there are lots of other tasks calling my name.

Other times I wallow in my whining. Of course I DO have time to write--even if it's only for an hour--but opportunities to waste my time call my name.

Thanks for pulling me out of my current tar pit, Margo. I'm off to write for a while...

Margo Dill said...

You are welcome, Sioux. I hope your words were magnificent!

Anonymous said...

Lately, I've seemed to see this advice a lot: if you don't like your life, change it. It is, in general, good advice.

I have one caution: if you are prone to depression, think long and hard as to whether it is something that really needs to change or if it is merely the puke-colored* glasses of depression that are clouding your view. It is too easy to throw away things of value when your mind is telling you lies and regret it later, says the woman who has done it. When you feel awful, the desire occurs to change something, anything.

(*The opposite of rose-colored glasses. My term for it.)

I have to say, though, that writing is therapeutic for many. It is part of self-care and self-care goes a long way to pulling yourself out of that pit. There is value in prioritizing.

Great post. :)

Margo Dill said...

Hi Susan:
You make a good point. Depression does make you see things unclearly too. Maybe one other piece of advice would be to discuss the changes you are wanting to make with a TRUSTED loved one and see what he/she thinks. OR if you know you are depressed, only changing one thing at a time. I could never do what Colin did anyway. He was YOUNG when he did this with no children and no mortgage. Once you have young ones depending on you, it takes a little more effort to change, but you can still do it in a different way. I guess what I loved about Colin was he was a good example and all of us in that room could learn something positive from him. It was a great keynote. :)

Thanks for your comment. Happy writing!

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