“I’m just trying to save up so I can move back to Tennessee and get a degree. Then I can be a professional writer.”

We’ve probably all heard or said thinks somewhat like this—I need to do this before I can do the real thing I wanna do.

Though that’s often an excuse for why we don’t pursue our dreams now, sometimes, getting into your career through the back door is the best way to do it.

I want to be a professional filmmaker.

Now, probably the most obvious, and even possibly the “best” way to get into film is by making lots of amateur films and submitting to festivals over and over until you get recognized by a major film studio.

But that’s not the path I’m taking.

This is how I imagine my path—

  • Become a professional novelist
  • Be a film actor part-time while I’m still writing
  • Form connections in the film world
  • Start my own independent film company
  • Write, direct, produce professional films

Here’s where you’re thinking—“Wait a minute! Noah! You said I should dive into my deepest dreams right NOW—what’s all this back-door nonsense?”

That’s a really good question. The answer is twofold

First, I am doing one of my deepest dreams right now—by growing my career as a novelist.

It doesn’t have to be THE dream that you dive into first, just A dream.

And Second, everyone’s path is different. You have to be sensitive to where God is leading you in the moment. You might not believe in God. Even if you do, you might not know where He’s leading you. That’s okay.

I don’t know where God’s leading me all the times, but when it’s important to Him, He comes through. (I believe this video from God Talks by Ed Rush might be helpful if you’d like God’s guidance on your future and don’t know where to start.)

Lawrence Kasdan’s Story

Today I’d like to take the life of Lawrence Kasdan, legendary screenwriter of Raiders of the Lost Ark, co-writer of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and writer-director of The Accidental Tourist and Silverado.

Kasdan grew up in West Virginia in a lonely Jewish family, the occasional theater outing being one of his chief joys. “…going to the movies was the happiest thing about my childhood,” he said. (Wright, Jim (November 7, 1981). “From ‘Raiders’ to ‘Body Heat’: Kasdan has winning combination”. The Miami Herald)

After viewing Lawrence of Arabia with his brother, Kasdan dreamed of becoming a director. At some point, he determined that the best way to break into the business was by writing screenplays. (Emery, Robert J. (1999). The Directors: Take One. pp. 275–303. ISBN 1-57500-087-3.)

To learn drama writing, Kasdan applied to the University of Michigan, since it has one of the highest-paying writing contests in the country—the Hopwood Awards.

So, Kasdan’s plan for achieving his dreams went something like this:

  • Learn drama writing at University of Michigan
  • Win the Hopwood Awards to help finance schooling
  • Write screenplays while being an English teacher
  • Make connections with said screenplays
  • Direct his own movies professionally

At the university, Kasdan actually did win the Hopwood Award—FOUR times between 1968 and 1970, according to Wikipedia.

That gave Kasdan the confidence that he could actually succeed as a writer.

After graduating, Kasdan tried to find a job as a high school English teacher, wanting to write screenplays in his spare time, but that didn’t appear to last.

Kasdan was hired as a copywriter in Detroit for an advertising company, and did very well in that job, though he didn’t like it. He wrote screenplays in what little spare time he had.

Later he moved to L.A., taking a job with another advertising company. He finished a romantic screenplay called The Bodyguard that took two years and 67 rejections to finally get picked up by Warner Bros. for $20,000. The studio rewrote it several times, not producing the film until over a decade later in 1992.

Kasdan’s next screenplay, Continental Divide, was picked up by Steven Spielberg, which eventually led to Kasdan being hired to write the script for Raiders of the Lost Ark and Empire Strikes Back, arguably his most famous contributions to the world of film.

It was only after Kasdan’s breakout success with Raiders and Empire that he finally directed his first professional film, Body Heat, which grossed $24 million from a $7 million-dollar budget, according to Wikipedia.

Kasdan had many other successes and even a failure or two later on, but from that point on, his directing career was official.

So. To bring this all to a close.

Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of four Star Wars films and the first Indiana Jones film, held a deep dream of becoming a director. However, he pursued it through the back door, building his resume as a screenwriter before finally hitting enough success that he felt confident to branch off into his “real” dream.

You don’t have to tackle your grandest dream first. There are so many careers, so many methods that can act as stepping stones up to the peak of your dream profession.

So go in the back door!

Be sensitive to where God is leading you, and take a step toward your goal, even if it’s a roundabout path.

I want you to do something. Open up a document on your computer. Type in your deepest dream—that fire you carry in your soul—up at the top of the page. Then, beneath it, write down a bunch of careers or activities you could do that could “get you in the back door” of that dream career.

Big dreams sometimes seem impossible. Working your way up can be a way to take the pressure off.

So sneak in the back door, like Lawrence Kasdan.

Ready to kindle your fantastic destiny?

Nerds should be able to pursue their dreams. College, high gas prices, and the busyness of life threaten to throw our dreams on the backburner, but they don't have to. Let's start pursuing our dreams together--today. Subscribe below to get weekly articles to keep you chasing your fantastic destiny.

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