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Dream Paralysis – It’s Not Who You Are That Holds You Back


What do you want to be when you grow up?

If you could do anything in the world instead of the job you are doing right now, and had the funds to do it, what would you do? What would you be?

Is it the same thing you wanted to be when asked the same question in your childhood? If it is, why haven’t you made that a reality? What is holding you back? What steps would you need to take to make that happen for you?

Sometimes you don’t end up where you thought you would

I was asked this question this morning. I wanted to be a fashion designer, a teacher and a marine biologist.

My life has taken many twists and turns – I am none of these. While parts of these careers still appeal to me, I’m oddly okay with the outcome.

So, what would I do now if I had the money in my bank account to throw caution to the wind and just “go for it”?

We all have that one unrealized dream for ourself

I contemplated my answer for a minute or so. After all, I had been in these shoes before. I had taken that leap of faith and opened a photography business. That was a passion I wanted to turn into something more.

The question is a loaded one because there’s a fine line between turning a passion into a means of earning an income, and doing something for pleasure. While having a profession that allows you to do something you love everyday is ideal, there’s also that point where it no longer feels like fun and you’re working with deadlines. It loses all appeal for you as well as the pleasure component.

I thought a bit more and contemplated honouring what has been nagging me from the back of my mind and the depths of my heart for a very, very long time.

Finally, I said it. I put it “out there” into the universe and admitted it.

I want to be a writer.

*deep breath*

That felt equal parts freeing and absolutely terrifying

My hesitancy in revealing that inner dream or desire comes with the fear of the eye rolls and the “who doesn’t?” remarks. In a world where everyone has something to say and a million mediums to convey their ideas I feel like I’d be a very tiny pin in a giant haystack.

What could I possibly have to say that is so different or unique that I’d think anyone would care to read it?

Which is why so many people never realize their dreams – they’re so afraid of other people not believing in them that they forget to believe in themselves.

Why do we value the opinion of our fears?

Just think for a minute what could we accomplish if we stopped worrying whether other people believe in us or not. Just because we set out to write doesn’t mean it has to be with ambitions of having our work published.

Writing is a very therapeutic form of creative output and often times it is in the process of pulling a scene or a thought together that true beauty exists. If others appreciate your words, great. If not, the end result is still rewarding.

If others have done it, you can too

A part of me however, can’t stop thinking that when I walk into a library or a book store that every one of those titles is on a shelf because their authors were in the exact same spot I am right now. Thinking about writing. Daring to think about the possibilities.

All writers start from the same place. They once were in that state of limbo of having a pen or pencil in hand and a blank page before them – trying to garner the courage to write that first word. It is only because they overcame the paralysis and put their thoughts down that it eventually was published. That they went from being a writer to an author.

Writing has always held an important place in my life

In my teens I wrote poetry. My favorite part of any English class was always creative writing. I took part in some creative writing classes in my twenties as well.

The bug has always been there.

In my Grade 12 high school yearbook, one of the English teachers signed my yearbook with “I look forward to seeing your book on my shelf“.

He didn’t even teach me in my 3 years of high school level English classes.

Twenty years later, I still carry his belief in my future abilities in the back of my mind.

We all have a story inside of us

I’ve had an idea for a novel floating around inside my head for years. Little bits of plot ideas, characters, a setting.

I’ve had a picture in my mind’s eye of where the story would take place and last summer that imaginary location literally came to life. As if I had already seen it in a crystal ball, I stood right where I had imagined my story would take place.

It was a surreal and extremely emotional experience for me. It was like I had been transported in time and placed inside my mind’s landscape. The experience only solidified my desire to do something about these notions of writing and begin the process.

Our procrastination paralyzes us

Still, no matter how much I endeavour to write, I keep waiting for the perfect time.

The perfect spot to put pen to paper.

Or fingers to keyboard.

Inspiration seems to come along unexpectedly sometimes

The other day, author, Ami McKay, wrote a blog post about the importance of doodling and it was like a moment of sheer epiphany for me. The beauty of her thoughts for her next novel displayed in such a tangible format.

Words and drawings and visual references. Pieces of plot, characters and scenes all finding temporary homes before they all get intertwined into the larger tapestry.

All of it looked so beautiful yet so ethereal.

Something is always better than nothing

It dawned on me that this was the exact process I’ve been avoiding. I thought I had to rush right into the sentence structure and the opening line.

What I realized is that that will all come in due time. My first step needs to be documenting all these swirling ideas in a place where I can let them go.

They can recalled and revisited but in letting go of them it will free my mind to explore other thoughts and ideas to add to what I’ve already woven in my mind.

In order to get from one place to another you have to be willing to shove off from the safety of the shore and just start sailing.

I’m hauling anchor.




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  1. Good on you! I, too, have dreams of being a writer….and have held onto this dream since I was about 10 years old or so. And here I am, inching closer and closer to 40 and I’m only now seeing this dream unfolding before me, yet in a medium that didn’t exist when I was 10 (blogging/online writing). For me it’s been important to allow my dream to morph over time, rather than holding fast to my belief of how it “should” be (does that make sense?).

    At the stage of my life that I’m at, writing a novel isn’t something that I aspire toward, even though I feel I have thoughts and words to share with others. So I’m allowing my dream to go in a different direction, a natural progression of the current state of my life.

    But enough about me! Like I said, good for you. It’s great to have dreams and to follow them, wherever they take you. šŸ™‚

    1. So fun isn’t it, that you’d imagine yourself writing but as you say, in a realm that did not exist when you first dreamed of being a writer. I think that’s pretty damn cool. I think that is the beauty, there are so many facets and avenues for a writer to explore. No need to be pigeon-holed. The sky is the limit šŸ™‚

  2. You can do it. It took JK Rowling years before she put pen to paper. She just recorded her thoughts and built out her world first. I think that’s a big thing that made the books so successful.

    1. That’s how I’m trying to look at my past hesitancy to put anything concrete down. I have been mulling it over in my head, letting it age and grown into something even more than it began as. It is an exciting prospect to have a blank slate and to see what words end up making the cut.

  3. I can’t wait to read your book – you have such a way with words!

    Also, talk to my friend Mariam on twitter… she’s just recently had her first book published, and has signed a contract to have the other two books in the series published as well!

    1. Thanks so much Chelle. I was following along with Miriam’s recent release and was thrilled for her. She too was in my shoes once and I’m so excited for her that she’d had such great acceptance of her work and that they are already asking for more! Such a testament to her talent.

  4. Tammi I know you have a book inside you maybe more! I have always enjoyed your writing. How about a pinterest file of ideas and pictures to make your book start to come alive in a visual way for you.

    1. Thanks for your confidence in me, Shelagh. I’m one step ahead of you – I started a board for setting and one for details yesterday morning before even writing this post…I’m already having fun having the imagery evoke ideas, thoughts and scenes. So much fun to come!

  5. It’s so funny reading your post, because I’ve been going through the same thing. This past year I’ve begun working towards my dream of being a writer (which I write about on my own blog), and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I hope we both end up with our books on bookstore shelves. And if not, I want to know that I tried. There’s never any harm in that. Good luck! šŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for your words of shared understanding Melanie. It is such a daunting yet wildly exciting place to be – on the verge of something that may turn into something beyond your wildest dreams. To have your imagination come flowing out of your body and there for the world to see. I’m adding your blog to my reader and look forward to following your journey!

  6. Tammi, I’m new to your blog šŸ™‚ We met roughly a year and a half ago when you were in need of a sitter. You’ve been “suggested” to me on facebook ever since… strange synchronicity and then I stumbled onto your blog when I set up twitter today. TOO weird. Anyway, after all that, I want to say I hope you follow your callings. I believe that when these things keep coming up in life, our souls are calling out to us. I have the dream of writing too. I wrote a book once about 15 years ago.. it’s been nagging at me ever since. It’s so hard though taking that very first step. I wish you good luck and courage šŸ™‚

    1. Hello Glynis! What a wonderful coincidence this is! I sensed a kindred-like spirit in you and I’m so pleased you’ve reached out and our paths have indeed crossed again. I don’t for a second believe that is purely by accident. šŸ™‚ I took a wee peek at your blog and your expression of thoughts and feelings is so raw yet so soft and comforting. You definitely have a talent for writing! Do you think you’ll go back and re-edit your book or will you start another someday? Perhaps a different set of characters or perhaps a sequel? I’ve added your blog to my reader so I can follow your writing.

  7. I am the same way. My husband keeps trying to get me to work on something literary. One day he told me I should spend less time on my blog and more time writing something that could some day be published. This was a hard thing for me to think about because the reality is, I don’t have TIME right now to sit and write. And those few times I do, I find myself turning the humdrum episodes of my life into something artful – which is perfect for my blog. I know that if I stopped blogging I would stop writing. I just simply do not have the time to write anything continuous.

    But sometimes I wonder if I will ever see a dream become a reality. I am not doing that one job that I really wish I could do and really know I would be good at. I am not pursuing that one dream (writing) that I would love to see accomplished. It is a hard place to be in.

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