Do You Fear Your Dream by Jenny Hansen

 

The future belongs to those who believe
in the beauty and the power of their dreams.
~
Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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:

  1. What if I write the book and nobody buys it?
  2. What if I write the book and everybody buys it…can I be that brilliant again?
  3. What if I can’t meet the deadlines of a publishing contract?
  4. Who would want to read what I have to say?
  5. 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.

Happy Writing!
Jenny

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.

 

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41 comments

  1. Fantastic post, Jenny! Dead-on with how we creatively psyche ourselves out with the fears. Number 2 rings true for me and now I realize a bit of number 5 as well. Putting our writing out there is a huge flash of self. I’m all about facing my fears this year and am off to hunt some custom fit titanium undies. :-)

  2. Just move #5 to first place and the list is in the right order for me, lol. People knowing ‘who’ I am…not the smart aleck, but the real person I am, deep down inside…scares those titanium panties right off me! Not that the other things on don’t come into play, but that’s the one that taunts (or should I say haunts?) me the most.

    Very insightful post, Jenny! Thanks for sharing it. :)

    1. Kristy, the fact that you’re here at ROW80 chasing dreams means you’ve already won half the battle. :-)

      To see my fave titaniums, go to Google and look up “beer can underwear”…it’s a riot.

      1. Oh my gosh! Can you imagine wearing that stuff? Ouch! LOL…I can just imagine how long it would take in the ER to stitch someone up! :)

        And thanks! I intend to win the war. I’m who I am and I’m learning to stop worrying what people think of me when they read my stuff. So… Now I just need to win the editing battle. :)

  3. Jenny, this is such a perfect post! I watched Tangled the other day and that scene really hit me hard – actually brought tears to my eyes! It’s funny how you can fear the thing you love so much. And your top five worries for writers are so spot on. That last one is one I struggle with everyday. Thanks for writing this. It’s just another reminder that we’re in this together and that so many other writers are out there experiencing the same things we are. It’s such a great feeling to know you’re not alone.

  4. Hi Jenny,

    Number 5 used to be my biggie, but now I’m over it. Now number 1 is my number 1 fear. The scary part about that is if no one buys my books, then I’ve failed in front of the world. But I’m sure I’ll get over that one too, and move on to a new fear! I like the line you quoted from Tangled: “You get to go find a new dream.”

  5. Wow, just WOW, Jenny. I SO needed this (and the link to Chuck’s site) this morning.

    Warrior Writers Boot Camp kicked my novel (double entendre) plan up mega notches on Saturday. I know I’m growing because I didn’t go home to pout or plot revenge; I went home to plan how to kick my writing up a notch. I can do this!

    Thanks for all your super energy and these awesome links!

  6. You just had to throw undies in there, LOL! Where can those titanium panties be purchased, Jenny? Do they come in various styles? For me, I think the biggest fears I had were early on when I started telling people “I am a writer” – even with no published books. Once I threw it out there and started telling people my dreams, it meant that I’d better live up to that a bit. The fear still creeps in me for “What if this is never going to happen? What if I’m wasting my time?” But I’m all for kicking Fear’s butt with the attitude and sweet moves of a superhero. Speaking of superheroes and undies . . .

  7. Heya Jenny, this is a blinding post!

    Fear is a tremendous thing, some people run from it, others (as you rightly say) put on their titanium pants and confront it face on. :D For me no. 3 is a crucial problem (time management seems to have fallen off the cliff for me recently so deadlines really scare me); but what you say is true:

    “…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…”

    Thank you for the courage, I hope to not look at fear the same way ever! ;)

    1. Oz, on the days when I’m not sure if I can do this thing, I reach out to my ROW80/WANA pals or just keep moving blindly forward. I try to remember that I’m not in charge of the entire world, just that one book, chapter or blog post.

  8. I so needed this post today. Thank you so much. I mentioned yesterday on my blog about finally just ‘letting go’ of my stories and calling them ‘finished’. It’s terrifying, and I still feel sick about it in a way. But at the same time, I know I just had to do it–I had to let go and stop making excuses and changes because in reality, all I was doing was finding ways to sabotage my dreams out of that ever present fear that someday people would read what I had to say (and even more terrifying, they may tell me it sucks!) Part of overcoming that fear is developing a thicker skin and more confidence in my writing. I, like many of my stories, seem to be a work in progress in that regard!

    Your comment that “…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…” describes my self-doubt of late all too well. Thanks for the kick in the pants. I will think of this now whenever my fears try to keep me down!

  9. i love that quote from Tangled (Note to self, must watch Tangled), It’s so hopeful. When you achieve your dream, find a new one. And that’s so true of dreams, whether you’re letting go of one you haven’t been able to achieve, or letting go of one that you have achieved. What’s next? That’s always the question. (and I have to say, titanium panties? LOL girl!)

  10. Okay, this is creepy. Are you living in my head? Holy cow, Jenny this is an amazing post!

    But then again you are an amazing writer. You should go into motivational speaking. Forget the techie stuff.

    And I am amazed that your toddler will sit still for that length of time. How cute!

    Well, another post to bookmark. I need to go look for a pair of titanium panties! lol :)

    1. Thanks, Karen…you are one my blessings this year and I always appreciate your comments and support. As a stand-up trainer, I get to do techie stuff AND motivation. LOL.

      When you find your titanium underpants, strap those suckers on and fight that fear. I’m laying a bet right here that says you win. :-)

  11. Fantastic post, Jenny. And thanks to Kait for hosting her!

    I have a group of writer friends who support me no matter what. And when I go running to them whining, they email me back with the following: NOS

    It’s our code which says “Nerves Of Steel”.

    Thank you so much for the titanium panties. I love that idea!

    1. LOL, Sheila…I like Nerves of Steel.

      That reminds me of a talk I heard Susan Elizabeth Phillips give where she talked about rejection and how she’ll go whining to her BFF Jayne Ann Krentz. Jayne tells her, “You’re not special. We all get rejected.” So their NOS is “You’re not special.” I laugh about that ALL the time!

  12. I’m afraid no one will hear me. Then I stop and remember that chance has produced some excellent material, A Confederacy of Dunces. The author died and his ma found the draft. She turned it over to a writer and voila, a Pulitzer Prize. Keep dreaming.

  13. Loved this post Jenny! And I adore Tangled…
    I’m afraid I’ll never axctually say, “There, done.” It will just be a constant revision cyclone. Yikes.
    Thanks for this.

  14. I’m new to ROW80 Jenny, but I really enjoyed this post because it reminded me of how I was before I did NaNoWriMo this last year. I was always afraid of being the writer that was always inside of me. For me it was a fear of it being an obsession that would consume my life. And I’ve discovered that as I’ve been writing, I’ve been a better husband, a more diligent worker, and more focused than I’ve ever been before in my life. Writing is changing my life into the one that I always dreamed of. Funny how when we reach for our dreams our lives seem to become made of that same material. Thanks for the wonderful post!

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