Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT
Dreaming Big vs. Dreaming Small
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
If you’ve decided to become a screenwriter, a filmmaker, or to write for television you’re already dreaming about as big as it gets. You’ve decided to take on the insanely long odds of making it in one of the toughest, most competitive fields there is. Clearly you know what it means to dream big.
When you see yourself going after a big dream, you tap into the greatest source of motivation there is. Dreaming is different than planning, or creating a to-do list. It taps into something very primal. There is tremendous power in dreaming big.
When you dream about becoming a screenwriter, you’re throwing in with a group of select souls. You’re saying to the universe, I want to follow in the footsteps of great men and women. You can watch their movies, study their screenplays—you can listen to their Academy Award acceptance speeches.
You have put yourself in the company of men and women like Francis Coppola, Nora Ephron, Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino, Diablo Cody, Alfred Hitchcock, and Woody Allen. And that’s inspiring. Those are the people who come the closest to actually making magic on this planet.
When you dream about doing something, you’re deciding what to do with your life. And in keeping your dream alive, you’re constantly renewing your commitment, and willing yourself closer to the goal.
As you continue to dream, you start working smarter. You’re driven to manage your time better. You tend to gravitate toward the work. Something inside tells you to sit down at the keyboard and write.
You’ll also tend to gravitate toward people who inspire you to do the work. You’ll look for teachers, and mentors. You’ll spend more time with other people who share your dream. You’ll have friends you can talk to about your film ideas. You’ll build a network of people who are involved in film. It all builds to you reaching your goal.
Sometimes, however, the really big dream will feel overwhelming. The other people in your life may discourage you just because your dreams are so big. Your dream, your lofty goal may make others uncomfortable.
There will always be well-meaning people in your life, who’ll tell you, “The odds are against you. You’re going to be working day jobs and writing every night. How can you have a family if you chase a crazy dream?”
Like all writers, you’re eventually going to find yourself in a slump. A long series of rejections may wear away at your resolve. You might have to take on an extra day job. You might feel bad about not being about not being able to spend time with friends and family.
At times like that, when your motivation starts to wane, I recommend looking for more attainable goals. In the early phases of my own career, for example, I decided to get a job as a reader, covering screenplays for a studio. When I got that job, I was thrilled. It kept me going.
At other times in my career, I dreamt about smaller goals—like getting a job rewriting an independent feature script. I dreamt about getting a five hundred dollar option on a screenplay. I dreamt about getting a job writing for a kid’s cartoon show. Those dreams didn’t seem so out of reach but they were paying jobs.
I believe you have to completely buy into your dreams for them to resonate with you. They have to feel plausible, and somewhat realistic. With a set of less overwhelming, more realistic goals, you might find yourself more motivated to go after them.
What would you consider a more attainable goal in your career? Getting a meeting with an agent, or a manager? Pitching movie ideas to producer? Creating or writing for a web TV series?
Sometimes, even a few good networking experiences can raise your confidence. Placing in the top ten screenplays in The Page Competition do wonders for your outlook. Make one phone call a day to an individual you want to network with. The more contacts who agree to meet you, the farther out you’ll feel like reaching.
There are times during your career when achieving the small goals can get you through. Writing is so much about having confidence, and confidence comes from success. Small successes build into larger ones. It’s like a “snowball effect.”
You can get through a difficult period in your writing career by dreaming small. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking about getting from where you are to where you want to be. Create goals you can attain in a few weeks, or months. Keep dreaming small, until you can dream big again.
David Silverman, LMFT, treats anxiety and depression, especially in highly sensitive individuals in his LA practice. Having experienced the rejection, stress, creative blocks, paralyzing perfectionism, and career reversals over a 25 year career as a Film/TV writer, he’s uniquely suited to work with gifted, creative, and sensitive clients experiencing anxiety, depression, and addiction. David received training at Stanford and Antioch, is fully EMDR certified, and works with programs treating Victims of Crime and Problem Gamblers. Visit www.DavidSilvermanLMFT.com.
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