Wednesday, September 17, 2008
By Debby Giusti
What’s your dream?
To finish a book? Win a contest? Become a published author?
Motivational speaker and author Matthew Kelly writes about the importance of dreams in his new book, THE DREAM MANAGER (Hyperion, 2007, ISBN 978-1-40013-9370-9). According to Kelly, dreams are the keys to a successful, happy and motivated life. Without them, you languish. With them, you soar.
To illustrate his point, he uses a janitorial company with a high turnover rate. Needing to improve employee morale and retention, the executives come up with an innovative concept -- hire a Dream Manager to help the employees identify and achieve their own personal dreams. Before long, morale is up. Employees take pride in their work and feel a new sense of loyalty to the company. The jobs they once considered dead-end are seen as stepping-stones to success.
So how's that relate to writing? Take a closer look at what Kelly has to say.
People stop dreaming when they become caught up in everyday activities. Sound familiar? The house, the job, the family take time and energy. Often there’s little left in the day to devote to your own needs and especially your writing.
Most people don’t fail because they want to fail; they fail because they don’t know how to succeed. The first step is to identify your dreams. Start with something small that can be easily achieved. Then move on to a bigger dream.
Those who fail to plan can plan to fail. Draw up a plan to achieve your dream. Break it down into steps that are manageable and measurable.
Keep a Dream Book. Get a notebook or journal and write down your dreams, then review them often to stay focused and on track. Be sure to note the date when you first had the dream and also the date when your dream came true.
Dream without limits. Don’t hold back. Want to be a New York Times best-selling author? Add that to your Dream Book as a long-term goal. Now come up with a list of short-term and mid-term dreams that bridge the gap from where you are now to where you want to be in the future.
Find a Dream Manager. His or her job is to support your dream. The Dream Manager doesn’t do the work himself or solve any of the problems involved, but rather serves as a coach and cheerleader. (Consider asking a critique partner or online writing friend to serve as your Dream Manager.)
Be a Dream Manager for someone else. Relationships are built and strengthened when you help others achieve their dreams, whether family members, friends or fellow employees.
The earlier you start dreaming, and the more mentors and friends you have who urge you toward your dreams, the richer your life becomes. Sharing your dreams opens the door to opportunity. You’re no longer isolated or working alone; rather, you're joined with others in a common sense of purpose.
As a writer, you know the journey to publication is long. With a map, or plan, you can see where you’ve been and where you’re going. Charting your progress helps you realize you’re moving forward.
Steps in your plan for publication could include:
●Read a how-to book on writing. Spend a month on daily writing tasks that reinforce the techniques presented in the book.
●Write a new first-line every day for a month. The following month, expand those first lines into first paragraphs.
●Do a “what if” and come up with a deeply troubled but endearing hero. Then create a heroine who is his complete opposite. Now brainstorm a plot that would tell their story.
●Read a book by an author who writes for the house you’re targeting. Reread the book like an editor. Pick out the internal and external conflict, make an outline of the story and see how the author moves the plot from beginning to end, note the emotional and romantic development.
●Write a new book each year. While revisions fine-tune your writing, overwriting can be as poisonous as underwriting. Realistic deadlines keep you on track. Every time you begin a new book, you become energized and regain some of the thrill you initially felt when you started on your writing journey.
●Look at the manuscripts you’ve written. Determine five ways you could improve each story. Apply what you’ve learned to your current work-in-progress.
What about my dreams? I’m heading to Minneapolis and the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference today so I’ll be away from my computer and won’t be able to comment later, but my short-term dreams include:
●Make ten new writing friends at ACFW. If you’re attending the conference, please say hello!
●Meet four professionals in the industry, such as editors or agents.
●Learn five new writing tips or techniques I can apply to my own work.
●Visit with Seeker friends.
●Dream bigger dreams for the future.
Every one needs a mountain to climb and new horizons to conquer. So dream big. Make a plan that leads to success and your dreams will come true.
Wishing you abundant blessings!