How to Discover Your Dream: The Media Inspirations Exercise
Your favorites in books, TV shows, movies, and Internet sites can point the way to your dream. What themes or topics do you keep coming back to? Why? What common interests do your media choices reveal? What characters do you admire- and how do you want to be like them?
To help you discover your dream, answer the following questions about your media inspirations:
- Who are some of your favorite fictional (book or film) heroes or heroines? What do you admire the most about them?
- What are you favorite books, TV shows, and movies? What do they have in common? (For example: strong female lead as the character, focus on the law, complex relationships?)
- Does a particular genre interest you?
- What websites do you love to visit during your free time? What do they have in common?
- What type of information do you find yourself looking up a lot?
- What do the above answers teach you about yourself or your dream?
Resources for Writers: The Best Tips, Tricks, Books + Links
I wanted to compile a list of some of my favorite resources and tips for writers. Enjoy, and please leave comments with your own helpful tips, tricks, books and links for writers!
1.) Set a daily word count. Start slow and build yourself up. Stephen King recommends 2,000 words a day, and you can speed-write 500 words in 15-30 minutes if you focus. Pick a number and start meeting it.
2.) Now that you have a daily word count, create a log where to track your word count/time you worked for the day. I use a GoogleDoc for this. Or, print out a log and post it above your workspace.
3.) Get a goal. What do you want to write? Start writing it and don’t stop until it’s done. Do not stop until it is done. Once you meet your original goal you can move on to the next project. This is especially helpful if you have a million ideas for stories popping into your head.
3.) Write every day. If you can’t make your desired word count for the day, write 500 words. Even if your schedule is truly packed, anyone can squeeze in 500 words or 15-20 minutes of editing right before bed.
4.) Read every day. Nothing makes me want to write more than reading a good book.
6.) Set your own deadline. Maybe it’s to finish a novel in two months, re-write a poem by the end of the day or submit a short story to a magazine by the end of May. Whatever your deadline is, make it, tell people about it and stick to it! Deadlines and peer pressure work.
7.) The more you write, the better you write. The more you practice, the better a writer you will become.
9.) Don’t worry about the outcome. Take your mind off the end result and focus on having fun with the process.
10.) Stick with it! It can be really hard when what comes out on the page doesn’t sound or look the way you envisioned. Keep going. Re-write, re-write, re-write. Edit, edit, edit. If you keep plugging away at it, the work will get better. And, if you work long enough and hard enough you might even wind up with a piece of work you love.
Indispensible Writing Books:
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron (friendly, inspiring, practical)
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (every creative person needs this book)
On Writing by Stephen King (buy this book now!)
Build Your Dreams: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love by Chip + Alexis (shameless self-promotion, but packed with practical tips!)
www.publishersmarketplace.com – find your agent!
http://www.allisonwinn.com/ask-allison/ (6 years of questions answered about publishing, finding an agent, selling a book, writing a book, etc.)
www.nanowrimo.org – National Novel Writing month is in November. Sign up for the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days + helpful tips, forums and more
Resolution for a Routine worksheet – a worksheet by The Braid Creative to help you create a routine for your creative practices
7 Great Ways to Build Your Writing Routine – practical tips from litreactor.com
Backspace.org - published and established authors helping out other writers and offering advice on forum discussion boards
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/ - helpful information on writing proposals and more
Glimmer Train – publication for new writers + monthly email bulletins with ”essays by creative-writing teachers and other published authors on craft, perspective, and the particulars of writing and getting published”
“Your Elusive Creative Genius” - a 20 minute TEDTalk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
Write Like a Motherf@#$er - a kick in the pants from the advice column Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed
Disover Your Dream: The Bucket List Exercise
To help you discover your dream, you are going to create a bucket list. A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die. When you create your list, don’t censor yourself. Now is the time to get creative, and let your imagination run wild with every weird, wild, or wonderful thing you want to accomplish or experience with the time you’ve been given.
Now, get a blank piece of paper and a pen, set a timer for ten minutes, and create your bucket list. List as many items as you want.
Once your time is up, reflect on your bucket list and what it could mean about your potential passions by answering the following questions:
- Do any of your items have a common theme? (For example: adventure, entpreneurship, working with others)
- What personality traits do your bucket list items exhibit? (For example: charitable, ambitous, creative..) What are some career paths that also exemplify these traits? (For example, career paths that exemplify charity include a social worker, nonprofit founder, or grant writer)
- Are there any bucket list items that directly point to potential jobs you would like to have? If so, which is your favorite one?
- Out of the items on your list, what experiences could lead to potential jobs? (Think outside the box here. If 2/3 of the items on your list involve traveling and history, have you considered becoming a tour guide in a historic location, opening a travel agency, writing a non-fiction book about Italy or South Africa, becoming a history teacher in another country, or seeking a job at a museum?)
- If you had to pick the 6 items from your list you most want to accomplish or experience, what are they?
- What is one small action you can take today to start exploring or accomplishing one of the items on your bucket list?
- What are five mini-goals you can do this month to start exploring or accomplishing some of the items on your bucket list?
Discover Your Dream: The Obituary Exercise
Exercise: To help you discover your dream, you are going to write your own obituary. In this obituary, you are going to be imaging your dream life. Be sure to include:
- What did you accomplish with your life? Get specific.
- How did you gave back to those around you?
- How will you be remembered? How do your loved ones, friends or fellow professionals remember you? How does the world remember you?
- Where did you live? Where did you travel?
- Did you do anything really fun, adventurous, exciting, or cool?
- What is the lesson people will learn from your life? (i.e. dream big, give back, always keep learning…)
Now, set a timer for fifteen minutes and write your obituary, as fast as you can.
Once your time is up, reflect back on your obituary by answering the following questions:
- Out of the accomplishments you listed, which one do you want to work on first? Go with your gut answer.
- Are there any common themes in the accomplishments you listed? (For example: animals, working outside, the arts…)
- What can you do today to start working towards the goals in your obituary? Pick something small and easy as your first step. (For example if one of the accomplishments in your obituary was ending homelessness in the U.S., can you find a homeless shelter in your area to volunteer at sometime this week or weekend?)
- What are 5 mini-goals you can set for this month to get you closer to the accomplishments you wrote about in your obituary or explore them further?
How to Write a Business Plan
The best way to learn the language and structure of business plans is to look at real-life examples. Some great resources to check out are:
- And at the bottom of the post we’ve listed some sample plans.
This is a list of elements most business plans should include, but be sure to research the specific requirements of your industry.
Elements of a Business Plan:
- Cover page: Business name and contact information.
- Table of contents: Lists all the sections of the plan and page numbers.
- Executive summary: One-page overview that summarizes the whole report.
- Business description: How your business satisfies a need.
- Business environment analysis: What is the outlook for the industry you are getting into? Why is it a good time to start this type of business?
- Industry background: your experience in the industry or other qualifications.
- Competitor analysis: Prove that there is a market for this product or service by listing competitors who have had success in the field. Then, point out competitors’ weaknesses and how you plan to be better than them.
- Target market: Describe which demographic will want your product. For example, new parents living in the suburbs.
- Marketing plan: Describe how you plan to reach your target audience. For example, Internet advertising, phone calls and email, billboards, commercials, or magazine ads.
- Management summary: Who is in charge, why are they qualified, and what is their vision for the business?
- Operations plan: Describe the process of creating your product from start to finish. Where and how will you produce your product/service? How will you assure quality? What raw materials do you need? Who will be your suppliers?
- Financial plan: Describe your plans to get funding, what expenses you are expecting, and how you will generate revenue over time.
- Attachments and milestones: Include any other relevant information, achievements, or awards.
Here are some more industry-specific sample business plans to check out:
*if you don’t see your business idea on this list, check out bplans.com
Spring Cleaning Challenge: Clean to Make Space for Your Dream
Clutter is anything you don’t need, use on regular basis, or actually want in your living space. Clutter can be duplicates of things you already own, gifts from people you love but never use, or a sweater you haven’t worn in two years.
Physical clutter creates mental clutter – and both hold us back and distract us from pursuing our dreams. After all, it’s hard to move forward or concentrate on new goals when our environment is out of control, disordered or filled with the past.
- Some clutter has negative energy to it. This kind of clutter includes stuff you have held on to that reminds you of an unhappy time – a box full of photos of friends you no longer speak to, the old textbook from a class you failed on your bookshelf, or the pair of khakis from the waitressing job you hated that hang out in your bottom dresser drawer.
- Other clutter holds us hostage to the past. What reminders of the old you are you holding onto for nostalgic reasons? Old trinkets, stuffed animals, or the drying flowers from your prom corsage?
- All clutter is discouraging and overwhelming. We cannot make progress when our lives feel swamped with stuff.
This week, take our spring-cleaning challenge: get rid of 25 items from your living space. Why? By getting rid of some stuff you will make mental, emotional and physical space for a new you.
What can you get rid of?
Donate, sell online (depending on the condition) or gift to a willing recipient:
- Clothes, shoes, or accessories you haven’t worn in a year
- Luggage, backpacks, or purses that haven’t seen the light of day in months
- Books you won’t re-read or movies you don’t love
- Kitchen clutter – glasses you don’t use, extraneous pots or pans, random silverware that wound up in your drawer
- Old supplies from a long-gone hobby -that ice cream maker you used once, your old field hockey stick, a manual on animation
- Extra storage bins, shoe racks, hangers, etc.
- Furniture you don’t like or don’t really need
- Linens, kitchen towels, oven mitts, potholders, bathroom towels, beach towels or washcloths.
- Duplicates of anything – do you really three muffin tins, twenty bath towels, or seven black t-shirts?
- Old eyeglasses. The Lion’s Club has drop boxes for old glasses, or you can mail them off to a Club. Learn more here: http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/our-work/sight-programs/eyeglass-recycling/how-you-can-help.php
- Old cell phones and chargers. Donate your old cell phone to Operation Gratitude, which sends cell phones to the troops. Learn more here: http://www.grcrecycling.com/recycle-cell-phones-to-benefit-our-military?gclid=CKb3j_yRzbYCFTSVMgodTQIArw
Toss or recycle:
- Tech gear that doesn’t work or is incompatible with your current equipment (broken ear buds, anyone?)
- Documents. What receipts, papers, memos, old schoolwork, programs, newsletters, newspapers or magazines are you holding onto that you don’t really need any more? (Be sure to shred anything sensitive).
- Anything that is ripped, stained, broken, or can’t be re-used.
- Old batteries. Find a place to recycle here: http://www.makethedrop.ca/?gclid=CLKn6MCRzbYCFc5cMgodbxcAOg
If you’re feeling bold, try getting rid of some nostalgic clutter:
- Gifts you hate from people you love – ugly trinkets, clothing, artwork, books, movies, gadgets, or shoes that are not your style.
- Old photos, cards, posters, ticket stubs, programs, or mementos. Pick a set amount to save, like a shoebox or three photo albums, and consider recycling the less meaningful stuff.
- Stuffed animals
- Old uniforms
- Old awards, trophies or medals
- Guilt-ridden, “aspirational” items – The copy of War and Peace you tried to read four times, the padded bike shorts you only wore once, a calligraphy set to make hand-made thank you cards…if anything makes you feel bad, or reminds you of an long-gone goal, say goodbye!
- Items that represent the old you
Enjoy your cleaned-up physical and mental space for the upcoming summer, and if you feel motivated keep going after 25 items!
Alexis’s Top 5 Procrastination Busters
Since dreams require lots of time and energy (on top of your day gig, home, family and social responsibilities) it can be really easy to put off dream work for something a little more relaxing, like watching television, online shopping, reading a magazine, playing a video game, organizing your closet…you name it. Since I struggle with procrastination frequently, I thought I would share a few of my favorite, tired-and-true methods to stop procrastinating and get down to business. Please share your own tips below, and then go do something you’ve been putting off!
1.) Procrastinate after the work. I tell myself I can do my procrastination activity of choice (reading food blogs, watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, baking chocolate chip cookies) after I’ve done what I need to do. This way I get the work ticked off my to do list and I get a “reward” for doing it.
2.) Do my “time to work” routine. My signals that it’s time to work? I make hot tea, sit at the kitchen table, turn on Pandora.com, pop my headphones in and get going. The tea and late nineties hits are my signals it’s time to focus, and help my brain switch into work mode.
3.) Get out of the house. Transporting myself to a coffee shop or the library automatically eliminates distractions like the television. Bonus: I can stay disconnected from the wi-fi for maximum concentration. If I need total silence, the library is my free workplace of choice, if I want a little background noise and a caffeine buzz, I head to the local café.
4.) Enlist a friend. If I’m really struggling, I give myself permission to call a friend for a pep talk. Sometimes a little outside motivation is just the boost I need to sit down and focus.
5.) Just start. If I’ve been contemplating a certain project, or if a task has been weighing on me, I drop everything, sit down and do it. I don’t make tea, I don’t change into sweatpants, I don’t paint my nails beforehand. I just sit down and go.
What are your top tricks to stop procrastination?
School Visits, Dreamy Icecream, Film Screening + Book News
On the road again!
Last week we visited Mary Baldwin College and Ohio Wesleyan University where we had two awesome shows with lots of great conversations about dealing with procrastination, raising money for a dream and figuring out just what your passion actually is.
Mary Baldwin College put us up for the night in a lovely B&B, The Frederick House. The B&B was family run and operated, and very charming. We kind of wanted to move in there.
You can imagine our excitement the next morning when we saw the menu for breakfast printed on our coffee mugs.
After fortifying ourselves with ham and cheese pie and cheddar sausage strata (and watermelon hearts) we braved the roads for our seven hour drive to Ohio, for a screening at OSU.
On the drive we used Audible.com to listen to D.C. Pierson’s The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To. The book was really funny and fast-paced, which made the drive fly by (which was good because Chip was driving in rain and snow for about five hours). We both wished that the older brother character was in our back seat, talking in his cheeky British accent.
Ohio Wesleyan University did lots of fun advertising for our screening and we had a great workshop with everyone.
Then, all of my icecream wishes came true when we got to stop at Jeni’s Splendid Icecreams in Columbus after our show. I bought Jeni’s book last summer (and made homemade icecream once….) and I have been waiting for the day when I could eat salty caramel icecream without having to whip out the light corn syrup and heavy cream.
Look how happy and cheerful it is in this place. Perhaps, this explains the lovely employees who offered us free samples and explained about the melding flavors in the Riesling poached pear sorbet?
Yes! When I found out the scoop shop on High Street would still be open after our screening at OSU, I knew it was time to seize my sugary destiny.
This was a three scoop bowl with brown butter almond brittle, brambleberry crisp and salty caramel. I even let Chip have a few bites.
Hands down, best icecream I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve eaten a lot of icecream. If you’re in Ohio, do not skip out on Jeni’s!!
Last weekend we also got the chance to screen our film for the DelMarVa Roots Film Series in Milton, DE. Guess where the screening was?
The Milton, DE Firehouse!
Don’t worry, we didn’t block any firetrucks with our car.
While we waited for the screening to begin, we contemplated offering a price for this epic flag blanket.
Instead, we spent our pennies on some peanut M&M’s and had fun chatting with Lindsay Bane, the other filmmaker in the series. Lindsay’s short Red Shoes, had some crazy awesome animation and music. You can check out more of her work here.
And, super exciting, we also got a chance to see the first layout of our book this week!!!! It’s crazy to see everything start to come together!!
Spring Tour 2013 Begins!
The Dream Share Project is back in action, coming to a college campus near you!
We kicked off our spring tour at University of Mary Washington last Tuesday:
What a great start to the tour! Oh, did we mention we got awesome neon T-shirts?
Chip loves them.
We made some neon drawstring and canvas bags too- SUPPORT DREAMS!
We’ll be selling the T-shirts and bags at our shows – word on the street is we have some water bottles too…
On Wednesday we headed over to George Mason University for a screening and workshop hosted by the Center for Consciousness and Transformation (and Career Services and the Center for Social Entrepreneurship).
Professor Todd Kashdan, an expert on positive psychology, (and he’s featured in our film) introduced us!
We were so honored he came out to the film – thanks again Todd!
The Center for Consciousness and Transformation also recently screened the movie Happy, directed by Roko Belic, another member of the Creative Visions Foundation.
On Thursday we took a trip to Bridgewater College where we had a great turnout and lots of fun during a Q&A session.
This coming week we will be at:
- Tuesday, 2/12 Mary Baldwin College, 7 p.m.
- Wednesday 2/13 Ohio Wesleyan University
Can’t wait to meet everyone there!
Fall Tour – Weeks 4 + 5
In the past two weeks we’ve visited New York, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts. Lots of awesome screenings, lots of long drives and millions of red and orange leaves everywhere. (I realize this picture has no red leaves, but it’s hard to take pics while driving…so use your imagination!)
In Connecticut we visited Sacred Heart University, Fairfield University, University of New Haven:
The University of New Haven has an awesome forensic science program and building. We we were scared by the police sirens and fake blood splatters.
After our time in Connecticut we headed back to New York, where we stayed in Woodstock for the weekend. We got to see lots of tye-dye and hippies.
Then, after our weekend in Woodstock and a screening at Syracuse University, we drove out to Massachusetts. We had some great turnout at UMASS Dartmouth:
and Newbury College:
And this past weekend we spent in Massachusetts and Vermont checking out some local attractions like The Publick House for mac and cheese:
a overflowing used book store in Hadley, Mass – Books, Books and More Books:
and the Yankee Candle Village empire, aka the smelliest place on earth:
the Bavarian village:
trying to reach a new market:
Chip was super excited about that scent.
This week we’ll be visiting:
- Monday 10/22, Marlboro College (Brattleboro, VT)
- Tuesday 10/23, Elms College (Chicopee, MA)
- Wednesday 10/24, Curry College (Milton, MA)
- Thursday 10/25, Suffolk University (Boston, MA)