Rachel Bright didn’t take the conventional path to fulfilling her dream of becoming an award-winning author-illustrator (she has, amongst other things, been an air hostess, a landscape gardener, an ultra-runner and an extra in Dr Who) along the way. And building a multi-million global best-selling card and gift empire came as something of a surprise to her, too. But the wonderful thing about the rollercoaster less travelled, as Rachel puts it, is "you have a lot of fun along the way". Here, she shares her formula for finding your own slice of creative heaven – whatever that may be.
1.Believe the impossible’s possible
Always believe your dream will come to pass. Know without a doubt that it will happen. Say it to yourself every morning. When people ask you what you do, answer as if you are already doing it. Especially when someone is telling you it can’t be done or that you ought to do something a little more sensible instead. Don't listen. As the Queen of Hearts in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ famously said, "Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast". Never play it safe. Safe is very dangerous in the long run. The impossible is possible. I’ve seen it many times.
2. Talk about you’re ideas to anyone who’ll listen
I get asked one question a lot: 'But what if someone steals my ideas?’ Stop worrying about this right now. Every moment you are hesitating to show a good idea is a moment wasted. Show everyone what you can do. Tell anyone who’ll listen because you never know who might help you. Let your talents shine. Only good will come of this. Besides, if someone’s copying you, you should be thanking them – not only have they affirmed that you are a genius, it’s a head’s up that it’s time to move onto your next big idea anyway - pronto.
3.Write things down
It’s well documented that those who write their goals down are those most likely to see them through. Writing things down (or drawing them) forces you to think about what you really want – what your ultimate goals are. Write your future, draw your dreams and watch as they manifest one by one. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is one of my favourite books of all time. It’s a perfect demonstration of this idea. Harold quite literally draws the world before him how he wants it. Something to live by I think.
4. Have a hero or two, but make sure you stay true to your own uniqueness
It is very healthy to look on at those far down their path with awe and admiration. In fact doing so is often the fuel on your fire when you need it most. I have several heroes – not just other writers and illustrators but explorers, sporting greats, freedom fighters and of course, friends and family closer to home. Wherever you draw your inspiration though, make sure you channel it back through the essence that is you. Be completely confident in your incredible you-ness and others will too.
5. Know that sometimes bad news is good news
Things never go to plan. So we may as well embrace that because often the accidental plan turns out to be much better than your original one. We are bound by the extent of experience in our imagination, which can mean the extraordinary lies just outside our thoughts. Let your success come to you in its own way. Just take the turn that feels most right at the time and know that hindsight will be 20/20. I’m sure not many people would have said it was a good idea for me to leave my design career behind for a while to fly the skies as cabin crew, but it was one of the best things I ever did and I wouldn’t change it for a second. Perhaps I wouldn’t be where I am now if I’d chosen the more obvious route.
6. Make yourself a ‘maybe day’
Step away from the computer. Carve out a maybe day (I do it once a week but once a month is a good place to start) where you just do whatever you feel like spontaneously – take a trip…go to a café and brainstorm new and wacky ideas; whatever takes your fancy, as long as it’s nothing to do with what you have to do or supposed to do. Even when it feels like an indulgence as deadlines fly at you from all directions – do it! It will be some of the most valuable minutes and hours you ever spend.
7. Never take life too seriously
When you think about it, life’s pretty funny. And pretty weird. Putting it all into perspective helps you zoom out a little and enjoy the process. This approach wil fill your work with love and good energy rather than a frazzled-race-to-the-end-ness. I learnt this the hard way: too many late nights mess with your health and the pure love of doing what you do. And nobody wants that. As anyone in children’s books knows – you have some bonkers conversations like, ‘can we make the giraffe look a little more earnest and change the hat on the monkey’ – I mean none of us can not have a chuckle at that can we – even if it is the 14th re-draw. Joy is visible in every stroke of the pen. So gettin as much joy into – and out of – what you do is the most important thing of all.