The future belongs to those who believe
in the beauty and the power of their dreams.
Dreams are a funny thing, especially our waking dreams. Those elusive wishes we keep tucked deep inside our hearts as we go about our daily journey.
We writers chase our dreams every day we put our fingers to the keyboard. Our waking dreams are a constant in our creative psyches — so real we can see them, so fragile we worry they’ll break.
I watched Tangled the other day with my toddler. She loves the music and the movement and will sit with me, almost through the whole film, completely mesmerized by each character (especially Maximus!). This particular Disney movie rivets me too, and do you know why?
Tangled is about dreams.
Chasing them, achieving them. . .and the wistfulness of letting old dreams die. From the beginning of the movie, when the dreaming Rapunzel is kidnapped, through songs like “When Will My Life Begin” and “I Have A Dream,” Disney punches the dream theme home.
There’s a scene just before the end of Act 2 that perfectly describes the funny, capricious nature of dreams:
[In the boat, Rapunzel sighs, suddenly feeling afraid]
Flynn Rider: [noticing the look on Rapunzel's face] You OK?
Rapunzel: [whispers] I’m terrified.
Flynn Rider: [softly] Why?
Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what it might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything that I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well that’s the good part, I guess. You get to go find a new dream.
This scene sums up why so many writers trip over their dreams: Reaching for your dreams is scary.
It takes some serious nerve to lay your heart open and shout to the world, “THIS is what I want more than anything.” To throw your “all” into the fray and reach for a dream takes guts and, something I struggle with, patience. Because dreams don’t happen all at once. They take baby steps forward and a myriad of twists and turns to achieve.
Dreams take time, but they’re important and scary and real – for a writer, chasing them is the hardest (and most rewarding) game in town.
Why is it scary? How does our traitorous psyche manage to kick our butts so soundly? Because we worry. We creative types worry about the darndest things! And we often allow that worry to defeat us. Chuck Wendig wrote a wonderful post over on TerribleMinds a few months back where he discussed how “Writers Must Kill Self-Doubt Before Self-Doubt Kills Them” which I highly recommend.
What do writers worry about?? I’ve narrowed it down to what I think are the top five items:
- What if I write the book and nobody buys it?
- What if I write the book and everybody buys it…can I be that brilliant again?
- What if I can’t meet the deadlines of a publishing contract?
- Who would want to read what I have to say?
- When I say what I have to say, they’ll know who I am.
Every time an artist creates, they’re shouting to the world: “this is who I am.” What a heady, frightening, mind-blowing thing! For most artists, if our work is found wanting, it feels like WE are being rejected too.
How is the worried artist supposed to cope?
I am a huge fan of titanium panties. I just strap on the Big Girl Titanium Underpants and do the next thing. If I stop and think about the fear, I’ll hyperventilate. I have to just keep going, even if I work on something different than the thing that’s scaring the crap out of me.
What have I observed other writers doing when things are in the crapper? When rejections roll in and plots stall, when blog posts bomb and the WIP rises up like a scary beast?
- Friends and family are great when the going is rough.
- Some days wine is a requirement.
- A supportive critique group is amazing.
- A writing network is priceless. This could be your local writing chapter, or online groups like www.SheWrites.com or Twitter communities like this one.
You are the only one that can decide what your version of the titanium underpants is and how to get those suckers strapped on for fear-fighting. My money’s on you.
About Jenny Hansen:
Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her wildly teething Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing. When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In The Storm.