This post was written by writer Kathy Lynn Hall. Enjoy!
Don’t be deceived by the fairytale visions of your writing dream. It is not sweet, nor patient, nor kind. It demands attention and care … or it WILL die.
Think of it as a plant; not a bit akin to that droopy houseplant you’ve ignored to the point where it’s lost its leaves, but more like Audrey II, the ravenous, flesh-eating potted plant that constantly demands “Feed me, Seymour!” in The Little Shop of Horrors (I recommended the 1986 version of the play, great musical numbers and the deep voice of Levi Stubbs for the plant).
Oh, it starts out small and seemingly innocuous, but with any encouragement at all, it takes over your mind and heart, if you’re lucky. But here’s the catch. You must take care of your dream. Like Seymour in the play, you must feed it your life’s blood. You can’t walk away and ignore it, because you literally gave it birth. Now you have the responsibility to feed it.
Whatever your intention when you put your fingers to work spilling words onto paper or computer screen – a novel, a string of novels, a how-to book, poetry, whatever – you must fill up your inner self in order to nurture the vision. So here are a few hints about how to feed your dream:
- Take time to play. At the heart of most of us is a small child who delights in fun and frolic. What is your favorite form of play? Maybe it’s having an adventure. Perhaps, you love to jump into a pool or run along the surf. Just taking a child to the park can pull you into that state of enjoyment. In pursuit of pleasure, you will find ideas and moments that generate sentences.
- Immerse yourself in nature. The solitude of a quiet spot among trees, or along a creek, or maybe a picnic area in the middle of the desert may have the effect of soothing your savage beast. Connection with wilderness can let loose your own wildness, that part of you that rings true in your compositions, that relates to things beyond the scope of man.
- Spend time in your dream. Roll around in the idea of it. Do you want to be on a talk show someday discussing how you had the idea for your great novel? Envision the stage, the intent look of your favorite host, the audience clapping and your serene responses to each question. Do you just want to see your first book in print? Well, sketch out some cover ideas or reserve the exact spot where you will display a copy in your home.
- Set aside hours to accomplish it. We writers all have the best of intentions to map out our schedules to include daily spaces for authoring. But more often than not we fall short of our own expectations. As hard as it is (believe me, I know) you must devote yourself to this goal, even if it means that something else suffers (like less sleep!) because at the end of the day, time spent writing is the meat and potatoes of making your dream come true. You have to write to be a writer.
- Lastly, invest in your dream. I’ve known several people who call themselves “wanna-be” writers or refuse to say that they are writers simply because nothing they’ve written has ever been published. So what? The fact that you write makes you a writer, not someone else buying your work. Believe that you are a writer first, and then announce it to the world by purchasing some business cards with that title (or wordsmith or scribe – whatever works for you). Don’t be shy, pass them out with pride. When you run out, buy more. Also, purchase the books or tools that will help you achieve your goals. You do not have to justify this. It is okay to spend money on your dream. You are not taking it out of the mouths of your children or depleting your retirement account. You ARE investing in yourself and the vision you have for yourself. Do it now.
Don’t be deceived into thinking that once you’ve fed your dream it will quiet down. Oh, no. It will keep on demanding nourishment. Expect it, deal with it and be glad for it, because who really wants a wimpy, depleted, uncared for houseplant after all?
Kathy Lynn Hall is the proverbial Jill-of-All-Trades, having been everything from an executive to a cab driver and pig farmer to newspaper editor, all of which provided her with an existence filled with adventures such as homesteading in Alaska in her early years, climbing into Cessnas countrywide to do swimming pool counts from the air and later pursuing corruption as a small town reporter. Visit Kathy at her websites Red Mojo Mama and In The Writing Groove.
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