The Trap in Dreaming

Achieving dreams, pursuing dreams, realizing dreams.

These sound so much nicer than achieving goals, pursuing goals, realizing goals.

The former sound beautiful, exciting and empowering. The latter sound like we’re sitting in a business meeting, working.

When I post about The Adventure, it usually involves something about my ‘life dream coming true,’ and I use this vocabulary for the very connotations I just referred to.

There’s a trap in these words, however, if we’re not careful. This trap is akin to watching a magic show and believing we can Magic Sparkperform magic simply because we’ve seen it done on a stage.

Dreams, by nature, produce an end product image like the magic on the stage, beautiful and exciting. This image is necessary or we wouldn’t know what we’re striving for. But to focus solely on that end product image leaves us with just that, an unrealized image.

To achieve the actual magic show, we have to step back and accept that there are nuts and bolts behind it. These nuts and bolts are structured by goals.

This sounds very pedantic, and it is, for a reason. Dreams are images, hopes, heart concepts. Goals give us a way to achieve them.

A true goal offers something for us to grasp in order to make dreams happen.

Here’s the structure I’ve found for an achievable goal (Thanks to Michael Hyatt for most of this):

  1. Write your goal
  2. Be specific
  3. Make it measurable
  4. Make it timely
  5. Make it scary
  6. Figure out the next step

Let me explain just a bit. There’s something about seeing the dream image in words on a page. This isn’t just me. Research shows we’re 40 some-odd-percent more likely to achieve something when we write it down.

So for step 1: (Write Goal) Publish a book.The Adventure Book

Good, it’s written. But it’s incredibly broad and raises more questions than answers. What book? When? How long will it be? This scatters my brain instead of focusing it. Here’s where #2 comes into play.

Step 2: (Be Specific) Publish three of the adventure stories in book format. We’ll call it The Adventure. Even more specific, The Adventure will consist of Moonrise Mountain, Temple of Night and Wind and The Tournament.

The more specific you can be, the better.

This still doesn’t give me a gauge to work with on my progress. I could stare at that specific goal for the next 10 years and still feel like I’ve got a good goal…yet make no forward motion on it. To be able to see progress, we need to have something to measure it against.

Step 3: (Measurable) Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost.

This is like saying I’m going to lose 10 pounds instead of simply saying I’m going to lose weight. I know how much. Measurable tends to be a number.

However, if I just have a number, I could work on that number as well for the next ten years. The longer something drags on, the more it becomes drudgery instead of accomplishment.

Step 4: (Timely) Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost by the end of 2017.

Timely gives a deadline. It tells how much has to happen, how fast, and whether it’s too much or too little. If I just say I’ll break even on the cost of The Adventure, I could be striving for that for years without making much progress.

Step 5: (Scary) This is important because of how we human beans react to things. If you aim too low, there’s nothing to excite you about it. For some reason, we crave challenge and challenge tends to be scary, but there’s a balance here. You don’t want to go so far as to make your goal impossible but you definitely don’t want to aim so low that there’s no effort involved. Make the goal an elephant, not a spider you can squish or a T-Rex that will eat you before you’ve even started.

With all that put together, all I have to do is figure out the next step, as I discussed in Eating an Elephant last week. I figure out the next step and only the next step. Once that’s done and it’s accomplished, I figure out the step after that.

According to Michael Hyatt, you shouldn’t have too many of these goals at a time or they become overwhelming. 5-10 a year is more than enough. I’ve found, for myself, 1-2 large goals per year is plenty for my brain.

So what dream do you have? What goal do you need to articulate on paper to make it happen? If you’re feeling bold, write it out below.

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

Advertisements

Eating an Elephant

Nostalgia hit me. It gave no warning and only let go when I became aware of what was happening. The sneaky little…

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk staring at the master plan…err calendar for blog posts. Today’s date said Thank You’s. My past
self didn’t give my present self any more guidance than that. Perhaps I gave myself too much credit and figured I’d be able to write a sufficient post for Thank You’s. Now I know better.

Thank you

There is no way to say Thank You enough to those who have helped me make my dream come true. And in trying to figure out a way, nostalgia slipped in and I began reminiscing over this last year.

I started working on The Adventure as a book back in January. It’s a good thing that I didn’t sit down in January and try to figure out everything that would go into making The Adventure actually happen. If I had, it would have grown, and grown, and grown into a monster that terrified me, roaring in my face with such indomitable strength that I probably would have backed down, afraid of defeat before I even started.

It would have become the proverbial Elephant that I couldn’t figure out how to eat.

But as the proverb says, I looked instead at a small part. The editing, then the illustrations, then the…

One step at a time in the process and one step only.

This sounds kind of counter intuitive. Wouldn’t you want an overall plan? Wouldn’t you want to be prepared for things down the line. Of course, but only in a flexible way. Down the line is constantly changing and whatever’s written on the Master plan (even a Thank You post) must be able to change in accordance with what actually happens.

For the here and now, for the part that’s immediately in front of me, or you, all we need to know is the next step. That’s it. And that’s amazingly refreshing in a world of overwhelming information and planning.

This post is as much for me as it is for you. It’s a reminder to only focus on the next step.

I encourage you, if you’re attempting a dream, or wanting to learn something new, or whatever it is, you can do it. Just focus on whatever comes next.

For me, that’s getting the finishing touches done on The Adventure, getting rewards out to the amazing Kickstarter backers, and launching the book Nov. 30th. Oops, that’s shoving too much into the next step. Let’s haul back on the Elephant’s reins. Next step for today, finishing this post.

What’s your next step?

Blessings,

Jennifer

The Adventure Cover Part 1

Creating a Cover…Yikes!The Adventure Cover Part 1

It sounds so straightforward. Make a picture to put on the cover of a book.

Except you have to choose font, color, back cover text, image, size of image…oh wait, that image has to fit inside the ‘live’ areas of the book without getting cut off in printing.

A cover isn’t just the 5×8 image you see as a thumbnail on Amazon.

When designing a cover, you design the front, spine, and back covers as one image, taking into account the fold of the spine so that you don’t cross the fold when the book’s printed. (there is a give and take too to where that fold happens). You also have to keep in mind the fact that the book is cut around the edges at the printer.

Then you have to make sure the image quality is good as well. If it’s not, you end up with a blurry image on paper instead of the beautiful picture you designed on the computer.

But with all of this, the end product it amazingly satisfying.

Joseph Apolinar did a great job on The Adventure’s cover. It’s cleared the review process on CreateSpace and the proof copy is in the mail. I’ll let you know if it all turns out in print as beautiful as it looks on the screen.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like seeing all that hard work pay off. I’m beyond excited to see it.

Maybe because I’m arbitrary, maybe because it’s fun, maybe because it’s exciting, here’s a piece of the cover… More to follow in the next posts =)

Can you guess which Adventure story this is from?

Blessings,

Jennifer M Zeiger

Artists, Amazing Artists

I’m a writer but expect me to draw a picture and you’ll get a stick figure.

Stories flow through my brain all the time, it’s a constant river of possibilities. I’m gifted this way.

But I am not gifted in drawing, in illustration, and the people who are gifted this way boggle my mind. They enrich the world in a way I cannot. Thank God for such people.

Adventure Stories are Illustrated

It never occurred to me not to illustrate The Adventure. In fact, this is the first time the possibility even crossed my mind. It’s a hideous thought. Strike it from the record.

Adventure stories are made for illustration!

So, part of figuring out publishing The Adventure has been finding someone to illustrate it. Umm. Again, I wasn’t sure who to reach out to. This was no small project with over 50 illustrations and a cover to produce.

In the end, I found two amazing artists to work with and the connections I have with them I would never have considered before this project.

The first artist, Joseph Apolinar, is a coworker of my husband’s.

He’s got a crazy busy schedule but, somehow, he managed to produce 2/3rds of the illustrations plus the cover. This is just as much of a learning process for him as it’s been for me but I love his work and it’s totally been worth it. I was looking for pencil sketch kind of artwork and I got exactly what I wanted with his work.

The cover will be revealed soon but here’s some of his work to whet your appetite.

Snow Storm Sketch from The Adventure Book

This is the Snowstorm from Moonrise Mountain for those of you familiar with the Adventure Story.

Figure Under Porch Sketch from The Adventure Book

This one is the porch that starts out The Tournament for those who have explored that Adventure story in the past.

The Second Artist, Justin Allen, is a childhood friend’s older brother.

(Talk about a distant connection!)

I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw Justin. But when I spoke about how much work I was asking of Joseph, my dad mentioned he still had contact with Justin Allen and he might be a good person to contact.

It was a shot in the dark that totally paid off. Justin’s got some experience in Illustration (I think) and was thrilled at the offer. There are three stories in The Adventure and Justin illustrated one of them, The Temple of Night and Wind. His work creates a beautiful contrast from Joseph’s, giving each story its own distinct feel. I couldn’t be happier with how his illustrations turned out.

Here’s a couple to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

Howling Maw Sketch from The Adventure Book

This one is the Howling Maw from The Temple of Night and Wind.

Prism Statue Sketch from The Adventure book

This is one of the many tunnels you might end up exploring.

Amazing artists!

Again, I love how these turned out and these, along with the 50 some other illustrations look even better in the book. I can’t wait for everyone to see!

Blessings,

Jennifer M Zeiger

Mental Shift

Mental Shift Blog Post

Writing’s a solitary activity. As Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed.”

That’s the initial process, at least. Close out the world and let the story reign. But then the book’s written and it either sits alone and unshared, or the writer must crack the door open.

With trembling fingers, she opens the door a bare inch and the feedback comes rolling in. Good, bad, ugly, tear worthy, but then, as before, the writer either sits on the feedback, letting it fester, or the writer continues forward, opening the door an inch wider.

On down the path the writer goes until she looks back and realizes, the door’s no longer on its hinges and the story can’t be shoved into the privacy of her room even if she wanted it to be.

This is the publishing process.

The scary, thrill filled process that takes a story from its initial secluded setting to something that can be enjoyed for years to come. Writing may be solitary, but publishing is not. And I’m coming to realize it shouldn’t be.

My stubborn side wants to resist, wants to insist that I, the writer, can do it all by my lonesome self. The world does not work that way, however. It’s an interconnected muddle of human activity that can be both intimidating and fulfilling.

As I’ve dug into the ins-and-outs of publishing so far, I’m coming to cherish the muddle. There are connections I didn’t even realize I had, connections that span more years than I care to calculate, that are now coming into play. People are insanely generous. They want to help, and my stubborn internal idiot needs to step aside, humble itself, and continue asking those people for their amazing talents.

In a nutshell, that’s how I’ve found my editor, both illustrators, the amazing woman who is working on my book trailer and so many other people.

Going from the solitary writer, drinking her coffee in her writing cave, to the socially connected Independant-publisher is a difficult shift, especially for a self proclaimed introvert. But as with all my dreams so far, I cannot achieve them on my own. And it’s wholly more satisfying to share the journey with others.

Share the journey, the adventure, no matter what your dreams are. What adventures have you experienced lately?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Join Me in the Adventure?

Join Me in the Adventure blog post

I’M BACK! Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to shout.

It’s crazy how fast time flies! Especially when you set yourself a goal that you really want to achieve.

To recap:

This year involves The Adventure to Achieve a Life-Long Dream. In other words, my goal is to publish a book. Thus, why I’ve not been posting. I’ve been figuring out why it TAKES SO LONG to produce a beautiful book. A traditionally published book can take 18 to 24 months to hit the shelves.

With self publishing, or Independant publishing, this can move a lot faster…but to do it well, you have to slow down to learn the ins and outs because there are a lot of details involved. (Once I learn all the shenanigans, things should run more smoothly). But to give you an idea of my process so far, I feel like a Jack Russell puppy chasing a group of squirrels.

Now…

It’s starting to come together to the point that I can see the finished product emerging from the flying fur. MY EXCITEMENT KNOWS NO BOUNDS! (Oops, sorry, there’s the shouting again.)

If you’d like to join me, I’d love to share this adventure with you. For progress details, check out The Adventure Page.

Otherwise, I’ll be posting stuff as I learn it in the coming days. Hope to see you around =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

(P.S. The book’s titled The Adventure.)

 

Chasing Dreams Amidst the Storms

 

img_0608I’ve determined my fear will not stop me from riding a motorcycle. This does not mean, however, that the road will not throw debris in my face.

Similarly, just because I’ve determined to push ahead with self publishing Moonrise Mountain, my first adventure story, does not mean there will not be hiccups in the process. Rib cracking, loud and painful hiccups.

This last month I worked on expanding Moonrise Mountain to fit in a book rather than a blog. I’ve formatted it and put in page directions (adventures have lots of those).

Then looking at it, I admitted professional editing would be a good idea. I want to produce as professional a product as possible. Now, please understand, I’m an English Major. There’s a bit of pride in the way for this. (That pesky pride, always getting beneath my feet!)

So I reached out to an editor, who I researched and thought would be a good fit, to see about the details to have Moonrise Mountain edited.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-6-56-22-pmLess than 12 hours later, I receive an email back. The basic gist…editor’s not interested, find someone else. Fligiwagit! (That’s as close as I get to cursing.) And, to be honest, he probably didn’t mean to be so abrupt.

And now, after a few days, I can see that. But immediately after reading the email, I wanted to cry, and did. (The crying bit might have something to do with several rejections that came in the same week for Dryad. I’m keeping a folder on my computer. Once I have enough, I’m printing them out and burning them in a nice s’more making campfire. Anyone want to join me?)

Anyway, as the day went on, my ire rose and my stubborn streak kicked in.

Two steps forward, one step back. I’m still making progress.

On an up note, I may have found an illustrator for the story. And I’m super excited if it works out. I’ll share some of the awesomeness as soon as I can.

Until then, keep after those dreams because, despite the mud and bugs thrown in your face, it’s totally worth it.

Blessings,

Jennifer