First, a disclaimer on the disclaimer. You’ll see the following message on the top of all posts in this blog series. It’s an important one to remember so you don’t feel discouraged. On the contrary, consider it yet another message of encouragement.
The information in this post is based solely on my own experience and the experience of those quoted. No one’s process is the same, so consider it a launching point. If the methods discussed below don’t work for you, find ways to alter them, change some of the elements. If in doubt, feel free to message me or comment below, and we can brainstorm some ideas that work for you!
I ended my last blog most with the message: if you have an idea, you’ve already started on your dream.
I mean that. There are an infinite number of paths you can take for your life (a number so high it can terrify you and stop you in your tracks if you pause to think about it long enough. Which you just did, right? Take a deep breath), but if you already think you know what you want to do, you’ve limited that infinite number to somewhat of a more manageable amount.
(Even then, there are so many ways you can take your idea to make it new, original, best suited to your personality…. but I’m not helping things, am I. Take another deep breath.)
But if we look at your dream path as a straight line, your idea kind of sits here:
Kind of far away from the end goal.
Personally, it’s my favourite place to be. It’s the place where nothing can hold you back, no one can critique you or give you a poor review, and everything is possible.
Of course, if you stay in this place, you’ll never get anything done.
We all have something that kicks us out of the idea stage. Sometimes it’s internal motivation, but when you’re just starting out, it can take more than wanting to do something to get you moving.
Starting is scary.
Starting hammers home just how big a task might be, all the little details that need to be done.
That’s why I’m not going to jump into these posts from idea to starting. I’d rather break it down into smaller pieces than that, because it’s how I get through. Yep, even after six published novels, I start back at the idea stage for each one.
From here, in novel-drafting terms, you have a choice on how to proceed: to pants or to outline.
As you might know, “pantsing” means to go by the seat of your pants – to plan nothing, cross your fingers, jump in, and hope for the best. Some people are great at following opportunities as they arise and getting where they want to be.
I am less so. If my career is a highway, I prefer knowing where the next rest stop is going to be so I can catch my bearings. Therefore, as this blog series is anecdotal, my suggestion to you is: don’t pants your dream. Not if you want an easier (comparatively) time making a go of it. How are you supposed to take the steps to get where you want if you don’t know where you’re going?
So if today is the day to jump out of your idea into the first steps of reaching your dream, here’s my tip:
Before you quit your job and take out that loan, decide your goal, your purpose, in achieving this dream. Once you’ve achieved it, what do you want it to look like? What’s the aim? Wealth – success – fame – or simply having completed a project of high enough quality that you can step back and be proud of it?
Are you hoping to starting a business? What service or product do you want to provide? Are you an artist? What’s your audience and what reaction are you hoping to evoke?
Choose your goal.
An example (which will likely always come out in terms of writing, but hopefully in ways that can cross any subject):
Idea: I want to write a novel.
Goal: I want to write a fantasy novel about a young woman and her pet mongoose named Shmurple. I want it geared towards young adult fantasy readers in a tone that will make people laugh and think about the importance of eating their vegetables.
The goal will give you focus, and once you know where you want to end up, your plan to get there will be much easier to form.
But planning is another post.
Do you know your goal? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Opportunities to start can come when you least expect them, and out of the most unlikely places. Next week, I’ll share some inside from street performer Nicolas Belzile, about how he went from out-of-work actor to sought-after busker during the busiest part of Ottawa & Toronto’s tourist season.