Now, before you think I'm a stereotypical female with an addiction to footwear, let me be the first to burst your bubble. My shoe collection consists of the barest of necessities purchased from such establishments as Wal-Mart, Payless, and thrift stores. (As in "I'd like the cheapest pair of black size nines you've got.")
My daughter won a free pair of shoes from a store specializing in running shoes. A store that doesn't carry anything even close to small enough to fit her feet. So, they let me use the gift certificate instead. After all, now that I'm exercising more consistently and even starting to (gasp) run again, I needed a good pair of shoes.
Enter a very thorough shopping experience. Starting with analyzing my stride and measuring my arches. The salesman then recommended shoes designed for stability and brought out a pair for me to try. Lace them up, walk around the store, even head outside to try them on the sidewalk. Back for another pair. Compare the differences. Test pairs three and four. By then, I was very aware of the nuances of my feet and what felt like a perfect fit. Not too tight. Not too stiff. Not too high of an arch support.
All of this to find the right pair of shoes to support my weaknesses and give freedom to my pursuit of health and exercise.
The whole experience made me think. Why don't I give the same care to selecting the tools to pursue my dreams, including my dream of writing for publication?
What if I started off by analyzing what I needed? My strengths and my weaknesses and where I wanted to go? What if I explored the possibilities and tried a few routines or methods on for size? What if I even took them for a test-drive? What if I was willing to try another plan ... and another until I found the right one for me? All this to say, I don't have to do things the way everybody else does. I can take the time to find what works best for me in my current situation.
For example, do I need input on plot and/or character development? I can try a critique group, contests, workshops, a new book on the craft of writing, or find a mentor?
Do I need a consistent writing time to fit around my kids and day job? Try getting up early or staying up late, or getting an Alphasmart to maximize time spent at kids' activities.
Do I need fresh ideas or inspiration when I'm blocked or dry? Try praying, reading something different, watching a movie, taking a walk, or doing something else like a puzzle.
There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Just like my new shoes.
What about you? Are you pursuing a dream? What do you need? Do you have extra support for those areas of weakness? Is your current pursuit working or do you need a new pair of shoes?