Dreams—Tips From The Greatest Showman

by Jeanne Takenaka, @jeannetakenaka

Who has seen The Greatest Showman? Can I just say it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while? One of my favorite aspects of this movie is how Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum dreams. He kept an optimistic spirit, even when “bleak” defined his life. He infused light into the dark times.

Barnum needed to earn money to support his family, but got fired from his job. His daughter’s words kindled the dream for what would one day become his circus. He worked for his dream. He didn’t know exactly what he needed to do, so he started somewhere. He tried things. Some plans failed. Others succeeded.

P. T. Barnum kept dreaming. In the process of bringing the “misfits” of life together, he created a safe place. A place of acceptance.

His dream was not without opposition. Protestors shouted outside his building, becoming increasingly dangerous.

The thing is, Barnum persevered. He kept working toward his dream to bring smiles to peoples’ faces. He purchased an amazing home for his family.

He chose to see the possible, rather than the impossible in his situation. Even when things were at their worst, he held tightly to what he hoped to achieve.

He worked hard. He didn’t give up after a mistake or a setback. He figured out how to make it better.

He discovered what was most important. The dream was amazing. But the people who came together as a result of the dream being realized? They were what made his dream worthwhile.

How does all of this apply to us? As writers, most of us have dreams. We want our words to touch hearts. Our books to be published.

But, this road? It ain’t easy. We can take a few notes from The Greatest Showman to help us walk our paths toward fulfilling our dreams.

1. Determine to keep a positive outlook. Even when the rejections come. The contest scores tank. Remember why we write.

2. We all make mistakes. Figure out what’s not working with our writing and learn how to make it better. Talk with a mentor. Research online. Read books. We never have to stay stuck where we are.

3. Don’t fear opposition. We have an enemy who wants to defeat us. People who want to discourage us. We need to remember that God gives us our dreams. He will enable us to fulfill them in His way and time.

4. Remember there’s more to a dream being fulfilled than our words being published. Choose gratitude for those who help us along the way.

God is the Dream-Giver. His vision for our dreams may look different from our vision. We need to seek Him first. Ask Him to guide us as we work on our stories. And then walk on the path He leads us to.

What about you? If you’ve seen this movie, what did you like best about it? How do you keep your dreams alive?

Tweet: How do you keep your #dreams alive? Dreams–Tips From The Greatest Showman by @JeanneTakenaka via @NovelAcademy #writing #encouragement https://ctt.ec/i67yo+

~*~

Jeanne Takenaka writes contemporary fiction that touches the heart. She won My Book Therapy’s Frasier award in 2014 after finaling in the contest in 2013. She was a Genesis 2015 finalist in the romance category, and she finaled in the Launching a Star Contest and the Phoenix Rattler in 2012. An active member of ACFW and My Book Therapy, Jeanne blogs about life and relationships at http://jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com. A graduate with an M.A. in education, she resides in Colorado with her husband and two exuberant boys who hope to one day have a dog of their own.

Are you an Olympic writer?

The winter Olympic events terrify me.

Seriously. The Luge—a person hurtling down an icy trek at 100 mph on a tiny shovel-sized sled. (and have you heard of the Skeleton? Yeah, that’s the same thing, only head first. What—?) The Freestyle Skiing—aka bomb a double-diamond mogul run, (and don’t forget the two death-defying jumps in the middle). The Snowboard Cross—a free-for all down the slope that’s not unlike motocross. (and let’s not forget roller derby on skates—the Short Track event!) There’s the Giant Slalom—tuck and fly down a mountainside. Maybe touch the snow once in a while.

Even the Figure Skating pairs has me white knuckled as those tiny women fly in the air, hoping to be caught (please!) by their partners.

(By the way, that’s Alexa & Chris Knierim, pairs figure skaters who are married and happen to also be Christians. Click on their pic for their faith story.)

I love the terror. I’m an Olympic junkie. Mostly because I’m so awed by the courage and commitment of these athletes. (and I’m a Minnesotan, so winter sports speaks to my heart!)

What drives this courage, this commitment through pain and fear and struggle?

I loved the opening ceremony, but even more, the opening sequence that started with this line: When you are searching for the story of these athletes, always start with the dream.

Oh, how that truth translates into anything we do, right? Especially writing. Because without dreams, we have no fuel through the crashes, the dark nights. Nothing to pick us back up.

But I want to suggest that for you—there’s something even deeper. A calling. A calling to write a story that touches hearts, changes lives. A dream is often about a person. A calling is about the soul. About listening to that voice that refuses to stay silent.

A dream is a picture, a hope, a longing.

A calling is a purpose, a fire deep inside.

A calling is the thing that tells you to get out of the boat. (and here’s where the preaching starts, so you’ve been warned.)

This morning, I read: (Matthew 14)

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

That’s a dream and a calling put together. That’s Peter, seeing the miraculous, wanting it, then following Jesus’ call to do the miraculous with him. Peter, in faith, climbing out of the boat, doing the miraculous (until he realizes what’s happening!) It’s Peter, sinking, then taking his gaze off himself and putting it back on Jesus.

I think authors who build careers start with a dream, but they follow a calling. Whether it’s inspirational or not, it’s deep inside of them. A desire to tell stories that change lives. (by the way, I think athletes and musicians and even accountants can do the same thing.)

It’s the middle of February. It’s cold out. The wind is howling. But Jesus is calling. Get out of the boat. (and don’t forget to keep your eyes on Him.)

Oh, and by the way—want to really put power into your story? Give your character a Dream (something he’s always wanted) and then a CALLING to do something he can’t resist (which translates into a Noble Quest!) [And once you have that in place, you can easily put up obstacles and create tension. But that’s a different blog. Sorry—I get carried away when I start talking story structure!]

What is your calling? It’s not just to write a story—that’s just the HOW of your calling. Dig deeper.

Then go back your computer and keep writing something brilliant.

Your story matters!

Susie May

P.S. Are you working on a story that contains romance? Whether it be a thread, or a full out story—you need to know HOW to build it. Did you know that a great romance is layered on top of regular story structure? Or that knowing the 2 basic romantic structures can streamline your entire plot? Learn this and soooooo much more in our 6 hour seminar, Learn how to write a Brilliant Romance.ON SALE UNTIL VALENTINES DAY for $100 OFF! (and yes, we have a payment plan!) Get the BRILLIANT ROMANCE SEMINAR here.

Write Like an Olympian

by Kariss Lynch, @Kariss_Lynch

It’s time for the 2018 Olympics, and with the opening ceremonies, I will be retreating to my living room as I watch a few weeks of athletes chasing their dreams amidst massive adrenaline rushes. I literally count down to the Olympics every year. I’m drawn to the stories of these individuals, and I love watching our flag raised high and the national anthem play after each of their victories. But I think what I love most about the Olympics is that on some level I relate to these athletes, maybe not in skill set but I do in drive, and I think there is something we as writers can learn from them.

  1. Discipline

It is no small feat to stand on an international stage. Before these athletes get their one or two shots to compete, they are training tirelessly, often for years leading up to the big event. That training often entails injury, early mornings, long hours, lots of pain and sweat, and maybe even discouragement. But I imagine when they stand at the top of the mountain about to ski down or grip their partner’s hand before they glide onto the ice, all the time spent is worth it. We will never see our publishing dreams come to life without hours of discipline. These are the hours no one else will ever see, and these are the hours that will shape us the most.

  1. Dreaming

I am a dreamer by nature, and I imagine many of these athletes are, as well. Making our dreams a reality requires intentionality, something these athletes do not lack. It is clear to me that many of them don’t just show up to these games to compete. They show up because they love their sport. Likewise, I will need taste victory if I fail to dream with intention and get so caught up in the discipline and task that I forget why I started this journey in the first place – because I love story.

  1. Daring

It takes daring to lead in innovation, scores, and skill in a sport. It takes a willingness to try the things others won’t, to know your body and its possibilities and limitations and push until you see victory. It takes character that races forward in spite of fear, obstacles, and insecurity. Daring embraces the challenge and perseveres. I want to be like that with my writing. I want to be the innovator, the creator, the encourager, and the challenger of the status quo. I want to know the stories God has given me and write them without fear, and I want to encourage my readers to live boldly.

I am constantly inspired by these athletes, and I want to be that source of inspiration to readers. I want to watch these games, cheer for Team USA, and then grab my computer and write like an Olympian. Who’s with me? USA! USA!

Tweet: Write like an Olympian by @Kariss_Lynch via @NovelAcademy https://ctt.ec/6jaIH+ #writing

Tweet: 3 Tips For Writers to Write Like Olympians by @Kariss_Lynch via @NovelAcademy https://ctt.ec/P203z+ #writing

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Kariss Lynch writes contemporary romance about characters with big dreams, adventurous hearts, and enduring hope. She is the author of the Heart of a Warrior series and loves to encourage her readers to have courage. In her free time, she hangs out with her family and friends, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.

 

​What happens when you don’t give up

I couldn’t believe it. Someone had sneaked into my office and in the middle of my manuscript had written:

You are making a mistake.

You are a missionary. You should be spending your time evangelizing, not writing fiction.

You are wasting God’s time.

Yep.

And frankly, right then…I thought they were right. See, hubs and I and our four children were living in Siberia, working as church-planting missionaries. Sharing the gospel, assisting short term mission teams and helping local bodies of believers build church buildings. I was homeschooling our four children and teaching ESL to Russians using the Bible.

And, I was trying to get published. I’m not sure why—I loved my “job” as a wife, mother and missionary. But God had ignited inside me a desire to tell stories of faith, romance and adventure, and I couldn’t seem to douse it.

Still, I was getting nowhere. I’d written four novels. All got rejected. I’d recently sent in a novella to a contest, but with the mail service in Siberia, it probably got thrown in some circular file.

He was probably right. Rude, but right.

There comes a time in our writing life when it feels like we’re getting nowhere. We’ve written manuscripts that our friends love…and publishers reject. Or maybe we’ve indie published and we’re getting no traction with readers. We’ve written and rewritten and right now…well, maybe we need to admit we’ve made a mistake.

OR.

We could press on, believing that our moment, our dreams, will come to fruition.

Because if we do…we might just get here:

Image result for nick foles super bowl trophy

In case you’re not a football fanatic, (like me), that’s Nick Foles. The BACK UP Quarterback for the Philadelphia EAGLES. The guy who just led his team to a Super Bowl Victory. The MVP of the team.

Last year, Nick Foles almost retired from football. Because, see, although he played football at the same Austin, TX high school as Drew Brees, although he was a Pac-12 stand out QB for Arizona, (coming off the bench to score his starting spot) he wasn’t recognized as a NFL superstar. Although he had good ratings when he got in the game, football seemed to conspire against him. Injury, second-team starts, trades to the Rams, then the Chiefs, and finally as a backup QB again for the Eagles. He got his chance when starting QB Carson Wentz went down, injured in week 14.

Let me just add that, on average, Foles won games. He completed passes. He was very good at his job. (in other words, he told a great story!)

He just never got his chance to shine.

When the Chiefs released him as a free agent 2 seasons ago, (that’s football talk for a publisher’s rejection), he thought seriously about giving up.

Reflecting on his career crossroads on the biggest night of his career, Foles, 29, said: “I think as people, we deal with struggles. And that was a moment in my life where I thought about it, and I prayed about it. I’m grateful that I made the decision to come back.” (Evening Standard,02/05/18)

Yeah, I’ll bet.

I have always said that getting published isn’t magic—it’s hard work. It’s not giving up. It’s seeing the big picture that your journey is worth the fight.

Nick Foles, by the way, is a Christian. As is Carson Wentz, as is Zach Ertz, (who made the winning touchdown), as is the coach of the Eagles (as are others on the team). And they all thanked God for the win yesterday. Does God care who won the Super Bowl? I don’t think so. Does He care who gets the glory? You bet. I don’t think it’s a leap to suggest that Foles trusted in God’s plan for his success, and that God used his trust to do something amazing.

Do you believe that you’ve been called to do this? If so, then don’t listen to the rejection, the discouragers, the people who think: You could be doing something better with your time.

There’s no time better spent than the one following God’s call on your life.

Keep honing your skills. Keep playing. Be ready to be put in the game.

Congratulations, Nick Foles and the rest of the Eagles. Well done. Keep saying YES to God.

Your story matters! Go, write something brilliant!

 

Susie May

P.S. If you’re working on a story that contains romance—whether it be a thread, or a full out story—you need to know HOW to build it. Did you know that a great romance is layered on top of regular story structure? Or that knowing the 2 basic romantic structures can streamline your entire plot? Learn this and soooooo much more in our 6 hour seminar, Learn how to write a Brilliant Romance. ON SALE UNTIL VALENTINES DAY for $100 OFF! (and yes, we have a payment plan!) Get the BRILLIANT ROMANCE SEMINAR here.(Click on the Link. Or use the coupon code: LOVE18 at checkout!)

 

(And, if you want to read more about the Eagles and their faith: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900009342/nfl-players-using-super-bowl-spotlight-as-a-platform-to-share-their-christian-faith.html)