Nancy Yi Fan – Lessons from Life

This post is part of our Inspirational People series, covering the life stories and lessons from some of the worlds most successful and influential people. For more post’s like this one, click here.

Nancy Yi Fan: Soaring to Sword bird Success…

Nancy Yi Fan may not be a name you’ve ever come across before, mostly because writing, by nature, is quite an introverted form of success. But this doesn’t mean that her success, or her story, is any less valid on the blog. In fact, her story is something that grabbed me, as a young writer myself, like no other ever has.

Who Is Nancy Yi Fan?

Nancy Yi Fan - Who is Nancy Yi Fan?Nancy was just ten years old when she started writing the book that would a few years later, become a New York Times bestseller. It’s hard not to be impressed when we consider the likes of Nancy Yi Fan in comparison to ourselves and our children as teenagers today, because even some of the greatest writers do not achieve in their lifetimes as much as Nancy has in the beginning of hers.

So to have released such a popular book series – you may or may not have heard of Sword Bird – before she even left for University is something both noticeable and inspiring to anyone aiming high for the future.

I choose to talk about Nancy today, because it made me wonder what my excuse for not achieving similar success was. But most importantly it made me realize that I wasn’t alone and that there were other young people out there, like me, working hard.

Quite often, we misjudge people as incapable. The youth of today are especially labelled this way, but it’s important to note that no-body is incapable of reaching their dreams. Whoever you are, a dream is just the first step and Nancy is one of the greatest examples of this in play.

In this post, I will look at the life of the extraordinary Yi Fan as both a successful writer, and a young entrepreneur. Although Nancy Yi Fan is just twenty-one years old, her journey is one that can be learnt from whatever your passion maybe.

Further Reading: The Pros and Cons of Starting Young

Journey of a Phenomenon: The Steps that Made Fan Great…

On August 26th 1993, Nancy Yi Fan was born in the bustling city of Beijing China. Her parents were both ambitious people and fuelled Nancy’s early flight in literature.

From a young age, Nancy Yi Fan loved birds. And it was this love that developed into the inspiration for her book series. This life-long passion that has lasted from childhood to date, proves that it’s a trick of the trade to reflect what you love in your creations.

At the age of seven, Nancy moved with her parents to New York City. Again, another bustling setting full of inspiration, but also full of barricades for such New York provided her with enough fuel to keep her mind busy in these early years.

The following year, in 2001, crisis hit the city in the form of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nancy was surrounded by the catastrophe that was 9/11 and found her self deeply affected by the loss to her country. It is believed that her book was partly inspired by such an event; a product of her terrorism fears and desire for an end to the horrors it brought.

Nancy Yi Fan in a Library of books

At the age of ten, Nancy had a vivid dream about birds at war. As a result of the dream, Nancy sat down at her desk and began writing her first novel as a message of peace to the world, for the world.

She completed the manuscript the following year and it almost-instantly, became a New York Times best selling novel that combined both Chinese symbols from her native land (birds) and the fears that modern, western society challenged this with.

Nancy Yi Fan in the paperThe world was in awe of this amazing mind and her books flew off the shelves. Shortly after she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show as one of the world’s smartest kids, a great accomplishment for any child. But she didn’t stop there. Her prequel, Sword Quest, soon followed and was published just two years later despite growing pressures from her schoolwork.

Writing through middle school and high school was a challenge for Fan, she admits, and Sword Mountain wasn’t released until July 2012. But still, she continued to write. And she continued to balance both her love for her writing and her need for education.

Nancy Yi Fan has inspired me. The way she sat down at her desk, and worked and worked and worked hard in a time when all of her friends were playing. She is now a freshman at Harvard University, enjoys Martial arts and takes care of her three pet birds. The bonus of her youthful success, is that time is on her side. As she can do as she pleases with this knowledge.

Who knows what to expect from her future and developing mind?

What Can You Learn from Nancy Yi Fan?

Don’t assume that Nancy was an anomaly…

Nancy Yi Fan didn’t get these prestigious achievements because she was young. She got this achievement despite being young.

She worked hard. Juggled hard. Made it her mission to prove she was as worthy of consideration as anyone else. And succeeded.

Whilst most of us were jumping around the park, watching Star wars, dreaming of being a Princess, she was working. A lesson we can all learn about taking our own flight of path.

Don’t restrict yourself… 

Nancy used her age to fuel her creations and she wasn’t restricted by the labels society had set. Instead she turned her restrictions, into her assets.

A child’s mind may lack experience and knowledge, but it’s also more flexible than any adults. Publishing such a book, with such a powerful message. Dedicating so much time, at such a young age… was risk. But there will always be a risk with creating.

By starting young, she has more experience for the future and would have injured fewer if any consequences if she was to of failed. Creating is about who you are. It’s about hitting the right spot. Doing the job. Conveying the right message. There are no excuses as to why you can’t create, achieve and be great.

Eureka moments don’t just happen…

Writer, businessman, artist, teacher. Whoever you are, it’s a good idea for any creative person to keep a journal, or even a dream journal, for when inspiration strikes.

Eureka moments, like Fan’s dream, don’t always happen. But when they do, write them down. Other examples of Eureka moments include Tolkein’s discovery of the Hobbit creature.

When marking papers, as a University professor, Tolkein came across a blank exam sheet. He wrote a single line, ‘In a hole, underground there lived a hobbit’. And thus, the Hobbit was born, followed by the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But it’s important to note that these were both products of past desires and experiences. So always ensure your surrounding yourself with the most inspiring stimuli possible.

Equally take note of the things that inspire other people around you. What made Fan unique was her opportunity to observe multiple cultures. Although the dream gave her the idea for the Sword bird series, it was only a matter of time before her unique self-wrestle and stimuli resulted in something great when combined with her passion for English. To create, you have to make. To create well, you have to channel what’s unique about you.

Don’t just create what’s there because you know it will sell. Be brave. Because the best works are those that convey message, unique and personal to you. If everyone wrote the same, life would be boring. Being daring in your inventions is part of keeping the ball rolling in your field.

You’ve got the art, but do you have the art of juggling?

“I know the excitement of creating your very own world, but also the feeling of having school and other things interfere.”

There is always going to be something ‘distracting’ you. First there’s school. Then there’s University. Then there’s work. Family. And before you know it, you’re sat at your retirement desk wondering what you did with that dream you had once upon a time.

You only get one life. You only get one shot. And distractions are made up. Because there’s always time in the day, if you make sure there is. If you’re truly dedicated. The most important skill that comes with creativity is a mastery of time and effort. If you can’t juggle, your ideas will remain ideas forever.

Nancy Yi Fan was a success because she juggled her focus between her world and the real world. You can be a success too, if you do the same. Take a risk. But don’t loose grip of your foundations, because you can’t be the best, if you don’t have the basics. And you can’t be the best, if you only have the basics.

Part of being a well-rounded successful person isn’t having a New York Times Best-seller (though it does give you the bragging rights for sure!), but being successful is about being the best that you can be. And learning something new about yourself, every second of the journey that takes you there.

Further Reading: The Pros & Cons of Starting Young

Wrote by Aimee Hall