The More I Write, the Tougher It Gets: What To Do When Ambition Turns Into a Pipe Dream

Image via Tom Kenny Design
Image via Tom Kenny Design

I’ve been writing since I was a child. I love writing but sometimes I question if writing loves me. Because if it did, it wouldn’t be this difficult.

Most of us set the previous success we’ve had as the benchmark for why we need to go higher and do better. That previous accomplishment somehow is not good enough. We want to do better. And well, we should.

This is why writing or anything else for that matter is hard. This is why athletes still train even in the off-season. Writers still write even after their latest book hits the bestseller list. Filmmakers still create movies even after their last film smashed box office expectations.

You’d think the more you practice, the easier it gets. Not so. The more I write, the harder it gets because I want to write something better than I wrote before. Giving people something that was better than what I gave them last time. This is why there is gazillions of stuff — books, movies, albums, posts — because it is our human nature to keep looking for what’s best next.

Honestly, paining over my writing is a behavior pattern that impedes my writing. So instead of more writing, there is less. And instead of more difficulty, there is more comfort which in the long run, helps to achieve nothing.

I used to sit in front of my computer and write 400, 500, 600 words and then scrap the whole thing because it read like crap. This is the moment when that little voice in my head takes over. It makes me regret not deleting those words, whatever they were, sooner.

“Why are you doing this?”

“Who do you think you are to write that?”

“Really, you, I don’t think so?”

“Seriously, you’re crazy. What’s the point?”

“And who’s going to read this anyway?

And this is where most people lose it. It’s either the voices or the writing or whatever it is that you’re doing. This is where ambition turns into a pipe dream. Where hope runs away and never looks back and confidence is not far behind.

We all feel like this sometimes. But a few of us fight back. We move forward. We keep writing, creating, filming, dancing, speaking, thinking, and dreaming. It’s hard work. It gets tougher and it gets better.

How do we break this pattern and move forward?

The first step is to have faith.

Yes, I know faith has been turned into some mystical concept only for a select few. But it’s not. You don’t need a whole lot of it. Just look at the paper and believe your mind is big enough and your fingers are stronger enough to put those words on paper and that it’ll be good enough.

Faith is really all we have anyway. To throw shade to negativity. To do what we believe is right. To create. To live. To conquer demons. All of that requires faith.

Then approach your work with a new mentality.

You are ambition for a reason. Your work will most likely be crap the first time out and you’ll never know that it can be better unless you keep at it. You don’t have to write a long treatise. It’s the words that really count, the meaning and the heart behind it.

People are not laughing at you.

Well, okay, they are. But what does it matter. To create something, anything, is freeing and fulfilling and deserving of critique whether supportive or hateful. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to like your work, or even to like you. If everyone likes your work, it is doubtful it was good to begin with.

Some say if your work doesn’t help you, it won’t help anyone else.

They may have a point. But please, your work should not be for you. Stop being self-centered. Everyone is at a different level in life and they will adjust in the way their mental and emotional faculties let them. If your work is all for you, then it damn sure won’t help anyone else.

Be aware of your ambition, and of the voices, and of the strong possibility that the uphill climb is always the toughest.

The mind is an active machine that throws out 50,000 thoughts a day on average.

Most of those thoughts are just suggestions and they’re the same suggestions you were given the day before, and the day before that, and the month previous, and the year prior.

We tend to attach emotions to these suggestions. Then we order our actions and behavior to follow these suggestions. And then we start making up stuff in our minds to prove our suggestions are valid.

This is how we begin to believe we’re not talented, we’re not good enough, that there is no way to succeed, that it’s not going to work, that we won’t make any money, that people will hate it, and that it doesn’t matter.

But at the same time, your mind is also suggesting that you keep writing, keep creating, keep working, and keep moving. Your mind is a suggestion box, not a sergeant barking orders. You can decide to scrap those 500 words you just wrote or keep those fingers moving across the keyboard. You can choose to hold on to that ambition or let it dissolve into a pipe dream.

And one more thing, perfectionism ruins every thing, every time. It holds up our work. It produces doubt and is the use of self-judgment. We are biased to our work and therefore, not a good judge of its quality or lack thereof. This too destroys ambition.

You are not to judge your work. Instead, you are to do your best work. Save the judging and critiquing and I-can’t-make-up-my-mind-about-it for your readers, watchers, or clients. They’re better at it anyway.

I think I still love writing and for now, writing loves me and hates me.

Most times, my writing is still crap. And I want to scrap everything and start over. But I don’t. I keep writing even though it feels unbalanced and like it needs to be more perfect (I mean, I need to be more perfect). But I come back to it everyday, hug it, tap those keys, and do it better.

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