Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Publishing professionals often snicker when they hear authors dream about the day their book becomes an Oprah Pick. Or the jaded roll their eyes to hear that an author has created a list of actors to cast in the film version of the book. You won’t catch me snickering. I think it’s important to dream. If it weren’t for the ability to picture wild possibilities many a great thing would never have come to pass.
What is it that makes people long to dash big dreams? Why do some take joy in mocking dreamers? I’ve always loved this list* of dreamers who succeeded despite the naysayers:
- He was told that his drawings were stupid and he’d never be a cartoonist – Walt Disney
- He was considered a mediocre chemist and told he should try something else – Louis Pasteur
- He utterly failed algebra – Albert Einstein
- They said he was “too stupid to learn” – Thomas Edison.
- The world discarded him as a hopeless alcoholic – Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
- She was far too old to start painting at 80 when her hands became too shaky to continue her beloved needlework – Grandma Moses
- He was blind at age 44, in a day when blindness was akin to a death sentence, yet he wrote Paradise Lost sixteen years later – John Milton
- Teachers called him dull and hopeless and flunked him in the sixth grade – Winston Churchill
- She was devalued because of poverty and prejudice – Golda Meir
- She toiled amid pervasive sexual discrimination in a staunchly male field – Madame Curie
- He was consigned to second fiddle in an obscure South American orchestra – Toscanini
I wonder what the common thread was for all of these unforgettable heroes? Maybe it was that they were not afraid to embrace the wild possibilities of life.
Writers need to rediscover dreaming big. You are constantly battered with joy-killing statistics by the naysayers. I’m guessing many of you can quote the tiny percentage of writer-hopefuls who will eventually get traditionally published. You probably know the pitiful average annual income of a writer in today’s market. You might even know the staggering number of books published last year.
Forget all that. I see hundreds of writers who are published each year despite those odds. I know many writers who make six figure incomes and a few who make seven and eight figure incomes. And that is in a market that publishes scads and scads of books. Most of those success stories are people who are not afraid to dream.
I’ve always loved the words of Henry David Thoreau, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Each writer ought to keep a Wild Possibility Notebook next to him as he writes. As important as it is to exercise our bodies each day, it is equally important to exercise our imagination. Here’s what you do with that notebook:
- Write one wild possibility each day. Don’t edit and, above all else, don’t be your own naysayer. Just write it down.
- Once you have it committed to paper, play with it. Ask three questions:
- What if. . . ?
- Why not. . . ?
- How. . . ?
- Once a week review your wild possibilities. Sort them into one of three columns:
- Elbow Grease. These are the dreams you can make happen with a little hard work.
- Depends On. . .. These are the dreams that depend on someone else coming alongside. (Like Oprah. Or a movie producer.)
- Only God. These dreams require a miracle. (But I believe in miracles, don’t you?)
Of course, that’s just one way to exercise your dream muscle. What are some of the techniques that have worked for you? If you’ve been too discouraged to consider wild possibilities, what can you do to again risk dreaming big?
*I collected the success stories above several years ago but I think most of these came from Dear Abby columns.
Don’t be afraid to consider wild possibilities. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish. Click to Tweet
Learn to keep a Wild Possibility Notebook beside you as you write. Click to Tweet
Practice the art of dreaming big. It’s the stuff of every success story. Click to Tweet