Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dream Big

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.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti


  1. Wonderful, wonderful post and great advice, Debbi!

    May dreams come true for all of you here at Seekerville!


  2. Loved this entry, Deb. Have a great time at the conference. Please tell us about it when you return.

  3. This is awesome. I keep a quote on my computer to ground me in just what you are saying, Debby.

    And I wonder, what have YOU done today to make your dream come true?

  4. What am I doing to make my dream come true? I'm going to the ACFW conference tomorrow!!! And I'm planning new books, revising my newly finished book, and staying involved with ACFW.

    And I'm praying. Prayer is very important, along with a good attitude. But then, the good attitude kind of comes naturally with all the low contest scores and rejections, which produce humility and yielding to God's plan. Not that I have attained a great attitude. It's a Work In Progress.

    I hope I see you, Debby!

  5. Oh, thanks Debbi! I have no problem dreaming big. It's the execution that gets in the way sometimes. Need to work on that.

    I'm at the ACFW conference....nothing new to report except I found a pretty blouse to wear to the banquet Saturday night.

    And I had a dish called Chizuan (sp?) salad last night at Wolfgang Puck's in the Mall of America (MOA). Asian vegggies (99% cabbage lol) with grilled chicken. Cabbage isn't my fav, but the dish was actually pretty good.

    People are beginning to trickle in.

    Cheryl's here and I expect to get to see many more Seekers today!

  6. Sorry about the "i" on the end of your name, Debby! lol

    Bunch of Seekers and ACFW members in general travelling today so they won't be able to post.

    Pray for safe travels for all!

  7. What a great post, Debby!! I'll be sure to look for that book.

    Safe travels for everyone! I'm not leaving until tomorrow. We'll be sure to tell those who aren't going to ACFW all about it!


  8. Excellent, excellent advice. Thank you. I'll not only take this to heart, I'll share it with a group of new writers that I know who are hungry to learn.

    I'm not so sure about the "share your dreams with others" point though. While I see the advantages, I've experienced problems in this area. Not knowing how the industry works, friends and family began expecting mighty things from me after I finished my first manuscript. Even more after I finished the fourth. And when years passed without a sale, their enthusiasm began to wane (as they questioned my talent?) It increased the discouragement. If I could do it over again, I wouldn't mention my writing and my dreams to anyone outside of those I met in the industry.

  9. A wonderful and informative post as always, Debby.
    Have a great time at the conference!
    Sherry Werth

  10. Debby, great post! I've achieved my dream of publication, but it's exciting to be told to dream without limits.

    The Dream Manager is such a cool idea!

    Can't wait to see you--and all the Seekers attending ACFW!


  11. Oops, forgot to wish everyone a wonderful time at the conference. Godspeed, y'all. Have fun!

  12. Kimberli, what a wonderful point you made. As time waxes on, it's hard to see the disappointment in your family/friends' faces, knowing that your loss is their loss.


    They think your writing sucks.

    People outside the industry don't always 'get' how long it might take, and they're helpful in informing us of every instant success they've heard of.

    Gag me now.

    After a while I just stopped mentioning the contest wins, editor interest, agents, etc. to my family. I felt like I was letting them down when things didn't pan out.

    Then last week my son called, a son whose big time Wall Street job might go up in smoke at any minute, and he doesn't even start the job until this coming Monday. Needless to say, this young, new lawyer has enough on his mind.

    His question?

    "Mom, where's your website? I was trying to show it to a friend and it didn't come up."

    I explained that I was revamping as time allows because of my genre change. He flipped to Seekerville and saw the current list of contest wins.

    He noted, "These are all new contests, aren't they?"

    "Mm hmm."

    There was a slight pause. "But you haven't said a word."

    I hedged. "I don't like making a big thing of it because every time we think we're close, something happens and I crash and burn. I don't like disappointing everyone."

    He responded, "The only way I'd ever be disappointed is if you quit."

    And he meant it. So Kimberli, I know where you're coming from, darlin', and that's why God created Seekers and others who know the walk, feel the pain and celebrate the joys. We understand.

    And sometimes, so do those others!

    Hey, with the girls gone, let's break out some of this chocolate stash I stumbled on in Myra's kitchen. And there are fresh bagels from the Jewish bakery not far from Deb... She asked me to stick them in the freezer, but when the cat's away...

    Meow! Seekers will play! Bagels on Deb, girls and guys!

    We'll check out Missy's kitchen later, but I have the feeling that the Preacher's wife isn't exactly Paula Dean at home...


    Slim pickin's there!


    Hop on board, ladies, let's jam. We'll 'dish'...

    And can someone pass me that homemade strawberry rhubarb jam for my bagel, please?

    That's from MY kitchen, btw!



    I made bacon cream cheese with scallion underlay...

  13. Wonderful post. The advice hit home. Thanks for sharing.
    Have fun at ACFW!

  14. Great post! For years that was my whole problem: refusing to ackowledge my dream. Now, when my writing comes up with 'normal' people (read that: non-writers that don't understand that there's nothing instant about writing!!) I throw in my 10 year clause. It seems to help quite a bit. LoL

    Acknowledging my dream and working toward it has revolutionalized my life. Everyone needs a dream.

    Enjoy the conference! I'll make it one of these years...

  15. I avoid talking about my work, but it comes up at times. When it does, I say as little as possible. When people ask how it's going, I tell them it's going and that these things take time. It seems to get me off the hook.

    I don't think my writing stinks. None of the judges said it flat out--and they were looking at my earlier stuff. But I work through writing books and attend workshops (and conferences when I can) and strive to improve my craft just in case ;o)

    Bagels. I love them! Pass the jam. What's with us pastor's wives not having decent meals available? A soul would starve at our place if not for the cereal and the jar of peanut butter that always seems to stay half full.

    What shall we do while the girls are gone? Too bad the conference isn't televised like the Olympics. We could sit and cheer them on.

  16. LOL, Ruthy. Paula Dean and Martha Stweart I am not! My son who just went off to college is putting on weight because of all the good food available all of a sudden (and because it's all you can eat). LOL No more spaghetti or frozen pizza. No more Bagel Bites or Hot Pockets. :)

    But I'll have you know I made fried porkchops the other night. (yes, I am in Georgia, so they had to be fried.) And I grilled steaks a few days before that. I'm not a total loser in the kitchen. :)

    As for telling friends about our dreams...

    I didn't start telling people about my writing for a few years. But once I did, it made it even harder because of all the questions, like you've all mentioned. But still, I think it was worth it to tell, because once I did sell, there were that many more people to be excited with me. They felt like they'd been part of the journey.


  17. Because once I did sell, there were that many more people to be excited with me. They felt like they'd been part of the journey.

    Ah, I'll spring it on them some Christmas. Who doesn't like a nice surprise?

  18. LOL, Kimberli! I guess it would have been a nice surprise as well. :)

    You know, I do have to add that I think it taught my kids valuable lessons in persistence. They saw mom fail and bounce back (over and over! LOL). I hope that it's taught them to be fearless. And I guess it's also taught them to rely on their inborn stubborness (in herited from their dad, of course). ;)


  19. I meant inherited, not two words "in herited". Spastic fingers today.

  20. Deb, I'm such a goof. I meant to tell you what a great post this was, then went off on a typical Ruthy tangent.

    From beginning to end you put together a wonderful essay on staying the course. Where would our country be without the John Adams of this world, the Benjamin Franklins, the Richard Henry Lees who dreamed of one nation, independent, democratic and good? Flying a Union Jack, no doubt.

    Great, great post. Thanks for the inspiration, kid.


  21. Deb, great post, but even greater is the fact that I get to see you in person TOMORROW!! Right now I am writing this from a tiny motel room in a tiny town in Iowa en route to Minneapolis. Can't wait to see ALL the Seekers who are going (and the unofficial Seekers like Mel too), but will miss those who stay behind TERRIBLY. It's just not the same without you guys.

    Ruthy, your phone conversation with your son made me tear up. What a kid. What a mom!


  22. Great advice (as usual!) Deb.


  23. By the way...Deb is with a few other Seekers (myself included) at the ACFW conference as we speak.

    Our internet access is limited which is why I couldn't check in with you all yesterday. I was literally driving.

    Deb sends her regards.