“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” –Japanese Proverb
I would say the most important thing to remember when you take that step from daydreaming to doing is to make sure you have a vision – some kind of plan, and one you stick to no matter what comes your way. I spent the last fourteen years of my life daydreaming about being a writer. I came up with every excuse possible as to why it wasn’t the right time in my life; after all, I had to finish college, work while I finished college, go to law school, intern, study for the bar, pass the bar, find a job, and then convince myself that I loved my job. All the while, I daydreamed. I had a vision—hell, I wrote the entire time, developed characters and stories—I just didn’t write the book. I found every excuse not to sit down and do it; so my vision was nothing but a daydream.
Then something happened. One day, I reached my limit. I took action, one which I will admit was completely extreme, but I haven’t looked back since. I won’t get into the sordid details, but suffice to say I did what most people would consider insane – I quit a very stable and well-paying job as an attorney to spend the next year writing my book. It’s the best decision I ever made, and I’m certain it would have been a complete disaster if I hadn’t had a plan (vision) for what I would do.
So what was my plan? Sit down and write. Wake up every day and dedicate myself to it with the same tenacity I dedicated myself to my legal career. Write with a vision in mind, with the idea of the story I wanted to tell and see it through completely. Never mind whether the writing was awful or no one would like the story, but I had a story to tell… a damn good story to tell.
Ironically enough, my planned story wasn’t the one that came pouring out. Plans have a sneaky way of imploding sometimes, but that’s a story to tell for the next lesson.
For now, the important thing to remember is this – stop daydreaming. Stop saying “I want to write a book someday” and actually do it. That’s the first step. There’s nothing magical about it. It’s scary as hell, but if you’re serious about writing, it’s the mandatory first step; and you can’t be half-hearted about it, either. I’m not suggesting everyone be as drastic as I was about it, but you need to take the time. You need to decide to do it and take it as seriously as any other endeavor.
The tricky part after that is being open enough to let your vision guide you.