IPA: The Daydream Story

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As writers, we all dream of earning enough money from our writing to live well off of for the rest of our lives (honestly, I don’t think any writer thinks about retiring). We all want to have the lives of Dan Brown, James Patterson, George R.R. Martin, or Stephen King and constantly imagine what our lives will be like with that kind of success. But what separates these writers from the others is that writing isn’t a job for them, it’s a career. And chances are, a definitely is for King, that they treated it like a career long before they ever reached the level of success that they have today. If you are going to have a career as a writer, you need to do the same. This is doubly true if you want to have a career as an independent publishing author. We are the true entrepreneurs of the writing industry, responsible for 100% of our research, development, editing, marketing, sales, public relations, editing, publishing, and a whole slew of other things that pop up along the way. And if there is one thing that all entrepreneurs will tell you you need in order to succeed, it’s a plan. Even now I can picture fiction writers cringing at this. We are creative, right-brained, people. The thought of writing a boring technical paper filled with analyses, strategies, financial charts, and the like makes us nauseous (this is the vertigo caused from switching from right-brain thinking to left-brain thinking). To solve this problem, I came up with The Daydream Story.

The Daydream Story turns the act of writing a business plan from a left-brain process to a right-brain process. Instead of composing a boring report that is very technical and dry, you will be engaged in a creative writing piece that will lay out your plan for success in the form of a fictional story. Once it’s done, you will have a completely fictitious account of your success and how you reached it that will serve double duty as an actual plan for success.

Step 1: Plan Your Daydream Story

I order to do this, you are going to cast a future version of yourself as the protagonist of your story. This is the you that you want to be.

Imagine what you want your life to be like as a writer. Do you live in a penthouse overlooking the New York cityscape? Do you live in a comfortable log cabin in a picturesque mountain setting? Chances are you’ve already done this. Write down your ideal life with as much detail as possible. Consider your house, your car, your vacations, your clothing, absolutely everything that you want and jot it down.

Now, ask yourself exactly how you reached that level of success. Did you write a New York Times Bestseller that was picked up and re-published by a major publishing house along with a sizable advance and contract? Did a movie studio pick up the rights to one of the novels you wrote? Did Showtime pick up the rights to a fantasy series you wrote in the hopes of competing with Game of Thrones? Write down the exact event or even collection of events that awarded you your dream life.

Now consider what level of success you had just prior to this. Were you making a steady living through the sale of ebooks? Maybe you, like I, were offering advertising space in your fiction. Were you selling audio books or even independently published comic books? How much were you making? Put as much thought into it as possible and write it all down.

How did you reach that level of success? How did you build your readership to a level that afforded you even that much success? Did you do blog tours? Did you pay for advertising on websites and in publications relevant to what your readers are looking for? Did you teach classes at writer conferences? Write it all down.

Finally, ask yourself how you got even this level of success. How did you begin. Did you start on social networking sites, meeting people and building a fan base? Did you attend writer conferences? Did you perform readings at local coffee shops? Think of all the things you can do today to get started and write them down.

Consider this a good set of beginning notes and start writing your story. It will be the story of how you rose to power as an author, making yourself a household name among readers. Your story could start with your humble beginnings, writing every day during your 30 minute lunch break from your horrible job flipping burgers. Each story you finish you post on a small website that your friends and family visit. Slowly, you amass friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter… all of whom you point in the direction of your fiction. They start telling their friends about it and soon you have developed a following of a few hundred people. So you decided to write a novel and sell it as a Kindle and Nook download while still offering stories on the website. Your following continued to grow and within time reached thousands. You publish your initial novel and many of your readers buy it before you even send it out for review. The review copies you send out receive some good and some bad reviews, but sales increase and some websites ask you to write some articles for them. So you keep writing novels. You even start charging for short stories. Before you knew it, you were earning a steady income from writing. Then, you decide to market the movie rights to your novels. It takes some time, but eventually you make a sale for over six figures. Meanwhile, the cover price for your novels are reaching the same levels as Stephen King’s and he is even suggesting your work to his fans.

Of course, this is a condensed version of a full daydream story. But you get the picture. Once it is written, go back and read it. Only, imagine you as a character you would read or write about. It this character believable? Is the story conceivable to you? If not, go back and rewrite until it is… until it feels right. But don’t stop there. Rewrite your daydream story often, adding things you learn or new strategies of how you reached your success. Add in things such as, he/she invested a portion of money earned from writing into sub-dermal Mastercard chips (or whatever crazy inventions or investment opportunities pop up). Once you are done, you will not only have an interesting piece of writing, but a plan laid out for how you intend to achieve success.

Note: Stories that include deals with the devil, magic spells, wish granting genies, and the like will probably be the least likely to succeed.

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