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One memory I have of Nannie Summers, my maternal grandmother, was her attitude toward dreams. I recall her saying that one should never tell anyone what he or she had dreamed lest it come true. As a child, I thought that odd because I often had good dreams that I wished would come true!

Another thing I remember about Nannie and dreams was how, when she heard of some tragedy that had befallen someone, she would remark, “I knew something bad was going to happen because I dreamed about muddy water the other night!”

I haven’t dreamed about muddy water lately (that I recall), but I have had several dreams about several family members (many of whom passed into eternity years ago), friends, and even some former students. In many such instances, I had not seen or even thought of them in a long time. In other cases, however, I had had some sort of contact with them. It’s funny how the unconscious, sleep-induced mind works that way.

One of my college psychology professors theorized that dreams were God’s way of removing from one’s mind the bad thoughts that had bombarded it throughout the waking hours. He offered no scientific or scripture evidence to support his claim, so I remain unconvinced, though his theory did give food for thought and discussion.

The Bible does, however, mention people’s dreams quite often. For example, Jacob dreamed at Bethel of a ladder reaching into heaven and angels ascending and descending on it (Gen. 28). And Joseph dreamed of how his brothers bowed down to him, and then he told them his dream, making him quite unpopular (Gen. 37). Later, he exhibited a God-given ability to interpret the dreams of others, including fellow prisoners and Pharaoh himself (Gen. 40-41). Then there was Daniel, who not only interpreted dreams that others recounted to him but also told them what they had dreamed after they had forgotten but were still emotionally affected by their dreams (Dan. 2). And there was the time that Pilate’s wife dreamed, and then warned her husband, that he should have nothing to do with the clamor of the Jewish religious leaders against Jesus before His crucifixion (Matt. 27).

But the dreams that most concern me are not those that occur during our sleep but those that our minds envision for our future, especially our writing dreams. Another term that might better describe it is goals.

Do you have dreams, or goals, for your writing? You should. Someone once quipped, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” I’d rather have a target to shoot for. Better yet, I’d rather that target be clearly defined.

The prof who had the dream theory did teach me one valuable lesson regarding turning dreams into reality, and that was the importance of setting goals. Once I learned to apply that lesson, I found greater accomplishment with not only my writing but also a host of other responsibilities.

I developed the habit of evaluating my past activities at the end of each year and then setting goals for what I wanted to achieve in the coming year. But that task in itself was insufficient. I had to ensure that the goals I set were realistic, achievable. Next, I had to delineate specific steps by which I could turn the dreams into reality.

For example, if I expected to have a certain number of articles published in a given year, I would have to come up with viable ideas for articles. Then, I had to write at least the number of manuscripts that equaled the goal I had set. In reality, I had to write more than that because, the publishing world being what it is, some of those manuscripts would invariably be rejected for one reason or another. I had to take action to find markets to which I could submit my manuscripts. I had to edit, revise, and often rewrite for those specific markets. Although this usually did not achieve my dream goal, these various steps did help me achieve far more than I would have accomplished had I not set goals at all.

What dreams do you have for your writing? Are they realistic? What steps are you taking to turn them into reality?

Although it’s half a year from New Years’s, take time to make resolutions (dream dreams) for your writing. Then establish a step-by-step plan for achieving them. Remember the Chinese proverb: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Just don’t dream about muddy water! And be careful with whom you share those dreams!

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