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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Are You in the Dream Business?


From dream to vision to reality

“To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!” – Alfred A. Montapert

Writers are in the dream business. We take the ephemeral wanderings of our minds and the apparently random firing of our neurons and transform them into words and images that can change the world. All we have to do is dream, then turn the dream into a vision and the vision into reality without falling into the fantasy trap.

All writers are in the dream business. But while wanna-be writers content themselves with fantasy and never figure out how to get past resistance, effective writers are in the vision business. What’s the difference?

According to Joel Arthur Barker, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

My perspective is that fantasy is the absence of true belief. We start with a dream and if we believe in ourselves and the dream, we transform it into vision. If we don’t believe in ourselves or in the dream, the dream devolves into fantasy.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with fantasy. It can be a pleasant way to pass time, but it’s sterile. No ideas are fertilized and nothing can come from it. It’s okay to have fantasies as long as they don’t interfere with taking action to transform  another dream into a vision and the vision into reality.

This is how I distinguish between fantasy, dream and vision:

  Fantasy Dream Vision
Metaphor A lottery-ticket holder’s hopes for a mansion A homeowner’s sketches for remodeling An architect’s plans and blueprints
Details Wildly expansive, changing, possibly contradictory Some are specific, some are fluid and changing Specific
Attitude I wish I could…Someday, maybe I’ll… I could do this… I will do this…I am doing this…
Action Very little; mostly waiting for someone else or fate to change everything; beneath the false optimism, there is no action to take because there is no true belief that the fantasy-holder CAN do anything to make this come true May be taking some action; can’t see clearly exactly what to do or how to fulfill the dream yet In motion; taking action; can see what other actions to take and have plans for continuing to take action

 “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese Proverb

 Do you have enough dreams? Are you taking action on your vision?

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