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

 

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Terror from a Box

I stated Thursday that the realization hit, “This is really happening,” in regards to publishing The Adventure.

That realization was both happy (Yay, I made it this far!) and terrifying.

This post is the terrifying and how I’m dealing with it. =)

The updated proof arrived in the mail last Thursday. Eager child that I am, I heard the mailman drop the book against the door, and I ran to fetch it…

After tearing into the packaging, I held the book up and stared at it. A lump formed deep in my throat. Although the quality of the cover was better than the first copy, it still turned out blurry, amateurish looking. They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but we all know it’s human nature to do so.

Panic warred in me like nervous butterflies turned into pterodactyls trying to escape. Painful in its intensity.

Two options opened before me.

Slump to the floor and have a good cry or figure out what went wrong, again. The former, trust me, tempted me with welcoming arms. But motion has always been my weapon in dealing with things. My brain, in its crazy moments, must know something is being done to fix whatever bothers it.

House is dirty, I have to clean. I’ve had an argument, how do I fix it? What do I say or do to make things right? Book cover turned out blurry, figure out why…and figure it out fast.

Contacting customer support with CreateSpace can be time consuming. So I shot off an email asking for help and then I turned to Google because any reply from CS can take 24 hours.

Then, when I’ve exhausted my brain to the point that it’s tied in knots, I pull in my Calvary. Namely, my husband. He comes to these problems with the idea that I’ve tried everything obvious and thus he has to think outside of the box.

This works well because he thinks completely sidewise to the way I think. We may have the same goal, but it’s almost a guarantee that we’ll reach it in completely different ways.

Finally, after much squabbling, which is our usual way of processing things, we figured out it all comes back to that pesky thing called PPI or DPI (Pixels per inch).

Quick technical explanation. When using Illustrator, you have to make sure it does not downgrade the PPI to 72 when you create a new image. It does this by default, thus downgrading the quality of any image you’ve made. For publishing, CreateSpace recommends 300 PPI. You can imagine the difference. Check out below what I’m talking about.

The fix for this required me going back and recreating all of the images on the cover at the higher quality. time consuming but maybe good for my brain since motion helps me.

First Proof:

 

 

 

Updated Proof:

 

 

 

Updated…This image is a print of the PDF off my own printer. The quality, along with the glossy finish, will be better from CreateSpace. New Proof shipped yesterday, so we’ll know if the quality is, in fact, up to snuff, by the end of the week.

Hopefully from these you can see the difference in print quality but even if you can’t, maybe due to my poor photo taking, I promise the actual quality on the book is better. So in creating a cover, watch out for PPI. It’s a sneaky little detail that’ll put holes in everything if you let it slip past your guard.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Hitting Pavement

There’s always a moment when pursuing a dream when it hits you,

“This is actually happening.”

MotorcycleWhen I was learning to ride a motorcycle, that moment arrived with a  smack against the pavement. I dumped the motorcycle I was riding during the class. As I stood up, my body shaking and my mind racing in a hasty injury check, it struck me in one clear thought. “Either get back on or forever walk away.”

I got back on. It took months before the terrified, almost vomit-inducing anxiety left me every time I got on a motorcycle, but now I can say with total confidence, getting back on was the right choice.

The updated proof of The Adventure arrived in the mail today. As I hold it in my hand and see all the work from the last year culminate in an actual, physical book, it hits me, “This is actually happening.”

I might hit the pavement in the process, but it’s worth it. I’ll never question if it’s possible again.

Don’t get me wrong, I might have vomit-inducing anxiety as I move forward, but that’s natural and no amount of anxiety will keep me from getting back on and moving forward.

Where are you at in pursuing life? Any “this is happening” moments?

Blessings,

Jennifer

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

Updates Pending…

I have this master plan… really it’s just a schedule for upcoming posts. For today, it said Book Production Update.

Sounds official at least, right? but when I sat down to write, I realized anything I could post about would be horribly boring. I’ve already written about anything interesting and really, I’m now in a holding pattern, waiting for Kickstarter surveys to come back with names for the book acknowledgements and for the latest proof to show up to continue Book Production.

So there it is, Book Production Updates. Further Updates are still pending. I’ll post them as soon as I know them =)

Until then, here’s the Writing Sidekick wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. He advises everyone to get outside and enjoy the crisp fall weather.

Writing Sidekick

Blessings,

Jennifer

Blessed by Kickstarter Success!

The Adventure Kickstarter came to a close yesterday, 109% funded. The generosity and support people gave this last month warms my heart. I really didn’t know what to expect when I launched the project and the response I got seriously brings tears to my eyes, like a giant hug from everyone I’ve met and even people I haven’t met over the years. As an author, it’s all about relationship, about caring about the audience you hope to engage.

When I set up The Adventure Kickstarter, I thought 30 days would move too quickly and, in a way, it did. However, on the other hand, 30 days was plenty for a Crowdfunding campaign. Kickstarter advises 30-60 days. I honestly can’t imagine how exhausting 60 days would be.

There’s a momentum, an enthusiasm, to it that needs to be maintained. Some days that’s easy, other days, when the Kickstarter is quiet, this requires a lot of self motivation and discipline because it feels like throwing yourself into a void.

But overall, there was a resounding response from the void. For that, I thank everyone. By now you know writing has been a dream of mine for years. Now that dream is coming true in large part because of all of you.

So, November 30th, The Adventure will be available on Amazon. I can’t say how amazing that is to me. I’ll keep you updated as things progress.

Until then, Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. Hope you have a wonderful Halloween! Be safe out there.

HA! KDP Figured

Formatting, formatting, formatting… This post deals with the difference between formatting for a physical book in CreateSpace and formatting for the digital copy in KDP. There may be a bit of ranting. You have been warned.

You design a book for CreateSpace, picturing the physical copy in your hand. There’s a helpful, little option in CS that offers The Adventure Proofto publish the book to Kindle for you using the design from CS. Simple, awesome, great!

Word of advice if anyone is considering self-pubishing with Amazon CS: DO NOT USE THIS OPTION!

Originally, I figured this would be a simple, straightforward way of getting a digital version of The Adventure setup, but then I dug into some of the forums for more details. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, on the forum said not to use it. They advised going directly to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) instead of using CS for the formatting.

Am I ever glad I caught this before publishing the Kindle Version. Here’s why:

  1. Even Kindle does not recommend using PDF for their publishing. (PDF is CS’s recommendation for the hard copy). When I tried this to see what would happen, it shoved the title page, the table of contents, and the copyright page onto the same screen. Eeek. Not pretty.
  2. Kindle does not use page numbers. Think about that for a second. There are no pages in a Kindle book. You can change the size of the font for easier reading, thus pages change depending on who is reading and what device you’re using. Imagine my panic when I realized this. For a regular book, this isn’t such a big deal as long as you use page breaks between your chapters. For an Adventure book, where I need to direct readers where to go depending on their choices, this is disastrous. Thank heavens for hyperlinks. I added hyperlinks instead of using page numbers. Now it looks all pretty like and might be even easier to navigate than a physical book. (Kindle readers, let me know what you think after reading the book. I’d love your feedback!)
  3. Images…um yeah, images within the text shove the text to the next line. This creates a giant space where the text should be. This is again because you can change the size of the font in a reader and the image may or may not line up with the text you originally aligned it with. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t an easy fix for this. So instead, I put all in-text images directly in the middle of the text like I planned it that way. (Cause I did, right?!) In the preview option, this actually turned out looking pretty sharp. Again, feedback from readers is always appreciated. =)

Anyway, thanks for listening to my quasi rant about formatting. Although I rant and rave about such things, figuring all this out is a love/hate relationship for me. Seeing the finished product is totally worth it, loved all the more for the challenge it is to figure out.

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. The Kindle version is one of the backing rewards for the Kickstarter. Check it out here!