Breaking Writing Dreams Down


When my husband and I first moved into our house we had so many dreams. First we were going to change this, add that and then we were going to find out about creating something else. At the time we had a 15 month old and I was pregnant with what would be the second of our six children. Our dream list got longer and longer and we soon realized that it was truly out of hand. We had big dreams but we didn’t have any plans on how to reach those dreams.

20170103_125922“Yeah, we’ll have to do all of this after we find the cure for cancer,” we finally said to each other.

It seemed at the time that finding that elusive cure would have been far easier than tackling all that was on our list. To this day, if one of us is attempting something too big without a plan, we’ll mention that we should probably try to cure that cancer before we start the project.

It’s January, we all have brand spanking new writing dreams for the upcoming year.

You’ve carefully written them down. You may have even posted them on your bulletin board to ensure you see them every day.

Now – why is it that even with all this new resolve, (which was the same resolve you had last year in fact) you haven’t made much progress?

Perhaps it’s because you’re trying to cure cancer.

A dream without steps is just that – a dream. Dreams are big. So big that they are difficult to contain. They contain happiness, sunshine, rainbows, and our future.

Dreams are pretty incredible. Finding the cure for cancer is a dream (for now anyway.)

But here’s the thing, you can’t measure a dream. What you can measure however are goals.

And you achieve goals by identifying steps or mini -goals.

So here’s an example.

Dream – I want to be a published author this year.

Okay, that’s a big dream, if you just left it like that then is it any wonder, you may still not be published?

But let’s take that dream and set some goals:

Goal – I will get an article published in a magazine by April.

That there is a measurable goal. You either do or do not achieve it.

But even that goal is a bit large, so now you break it down in to steps (mini-goals)

  • I will come up with 10 good topics for magazine articles by the end of each week.
  • I will flesh out an outline for each of those topics.
  • I will gather information and create an article pitch.
  • I will submit two magazine pitches a week until April
  • And I will volunteer to write a newsletter article, blog post, etc each week that I can use as a credential in my pitches.

Maybe your goal is larger – You want to write a book.

Same thing goes. You have to break it down.

  • Perhaps your mini-goal is to write 1500 words a day.
  • Maybe it’s to not get up from your desk until you’ve finished a chapter.
  • Or maybe it’s to go to the airport to get some character ideas.

The possibilities are endless because this is your goal and your dream. It’s up to you to figure out how to get there.

So take a good look at what you hope will happen in the New Year and begin to work backward. Keep asking this statement -“to get to this step, what do I first need to do?…” and keep answering until you find yourself sitting in your seat in front of your computer or notebook.

And then go ahead and get to work on your cure.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

24 thoughts on “Breaking Writing Dreams Down

  1. Funnily enough I’ve just wriiten myself some guidelines as I was procrastinating about continuing my non-fiction book about Blake. (Maybe writing this is also procrastinating!) I wrote:
    I need to nurture real enthusiasm for Blake’s ideas; don’t worry about fitting into genres, schemes etc; don’t complicate things, make connections and relate Blake’s ideas to my own experience. Let ideas percolate before putting pen to paper. Trust my own perspective. Well, I’ve no excuse now, better get on typing.

  2. Just ficus in one thing at a time. Like when I completely renovate my home…one room at a time. Sure, it took 12 years but it turned a house into a home complete with history and memories

  3. It is so true that all huge projects must be broken down to make them achieveable. The Big Dream seems so overwhelming but with small steps the task becomes (a little) less daunting. Good luck with everything you do in 2017!

  4. I have always dream of becoming a writer but parents and real life got in the way and I ended up in a place and time though ideal and comfortable for many is still not the life that I’ve dreamed of. Last year I had begun dusting and editing books that I have written 18 years ago and published them as E-books while writing my very first novel. I started writing two months ago and I have 71, 954 words on paper so far. Maybe it will all come to nothing but at least I can say that I have tried.

  5. A goal without steps is just a dream. It cannot be accomplished. Such good advice and one that I’m trying to implement more in my life, in regards to my writing, taking care of the family, and as many aspect as I can apply it to.

  6. I loved that last paragraph and the idea that, after you single out your main goal, you need to figure out the steps you’d have to take in order to reach it. IT makes so much sense, in hindsight, yet so easy to overlook. Thanks for sharing and good luck achieving all the cures this year!

  7. I’d go a step ahead and say that there’s a very thin line of demarcation between goals and dreams……they are interlinked….if you have a dream, then you start out with goals.

  8. wow, this is fantastic advice! i always knew that breaking into small parts was the answer, i just didn’t knew which question to ask to get there. but now i know. thank you. ❤

  9. Great post Wendy! The concept of working from the end may seem odd to some. I think it’s important to consider that we are created in the image of God and HE creates with the end in mind. This end to beginning concept is also taught at self improvement seminars and conferences. They are key factors you mentioned in your post. One must have a dream. One must start at that dream and work backwards to to set goals in place to bring the dream into manifestation. If one needs help discovering what those steps are google it. Find out who the best person is or was in the that field and retrace their steps as much as possible. Success leaves tracks! Again great post!

  10. Pingback: Writing Links Round Up 1/2-1/7 – B. Shaun Smith

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