An old friend asked me the other day, “What is it that motivates you to keep following your dreams? Like writing?”

To which the basic response is embarrassment, though good embarrassment. Because part of the trick is that I don’t think I do.

In the interest of full disclosure, though, I spent some time thinking about what it is that keeps me going when I’d rather fold in on myself.

1. Make it about more than just yourself.

When I write just for myself, I don’t get more than a page done. If that. Because in my head it can stay perfect and unwritten, and also, because it’s easier to sit down and play Dragon Age for the umpteenth time than wrestle with the fictional problems of a homosexual nymphomaniac drug addict involved in the ritual murder of a well-known Scottish footballer. (Rest in peace, Chapman.)

But when I write because someone else has said they believe in me? Then it’s got to be done. Apocalypse Ink Productions put their pound of flesh on the scale long before I did, and the fact that they trusted me to come through made the first book easy … and the second book possible.

2. Come not to praise Caesar.

Look, I have a sweet life and good friends. I’m surrounded by lovely people. Half of them are incredibly, passionately, ferociously supportive.

The other half actually tell me when my fly is down.

I don’t know how it works for everyone else, but I need approval and support. Without it, I’d throw my hands up in the air and give myself over to the Cube. With that said, anyone who’s involved in dreams also needs to have someone tugging at their ankle, if for no better reason than to point out when the building inspector’s coming after their castle in the sky.

I write my first drafts for the dreamers. I make the dream come true for the realists. It’s their fierce voices, their challenges, that make the protean vision a reality. Listen to the ones who challenge you to rise up and do better, because while everyone who loves you believes in you, these are the ones who believe you’re stronger than you think.

3. If you always do what you’ve always done …

In line with the above, dissatisfaction with where I am gives me the pinch I need to sit down and work. It’s a hoary old truth, but if you don’t work on your dream, somebody else will pay you a reasonable wage to work on theirs.

And that is some bullshit, my friends.

Does that mean the dreamer always needs to stay hungry? Hell, no. That’s a masochist’s prayer.

The dreamer does need to consider what might make life better. What might make it finer. What could bring them into a better place.

So in short, to S and everyone reading this: Live for something bigger. Listen to the realists. Reject the pessimists.

That’s what it takes for me to keep following my dreams.

Your mileage may vary.