Sometimes we dream too small and it leads us nowhere.
I had a week off work, 7 days with nothing to do but write. If that’s what I wanted.
Now, I didn’t want to spend the ENTIRE day writing–a lie, I really did, but I also had other stuff I wanted to get done on my week off–but I did want to use that time to do something AMBITIOUS.
So I did. Normally my writing routine is to work on one thing at a time, rotating between projects every week. But this time I figured I’ve got the week off, why not work on ALL of them this week? Could I do 1000 words a day–my usual daily word goal–on all four current works in progress? Sounds tough, but not impossible. And anyway, if I pull this off, I’ll have proved something very important to myself: that I could do it.
See, some days those 1000 words come easy, but some days they’re like pulling teeth with no Novocain and it’s all I can do to eek out exactly 1000 words. Some days I don’t even make that. But this one week I was determined to do it. And if I missed it one day, as long as, at the end of that week off I had 20,000 new words written, I would consider it a success.
Know what happened?
I made it. It took writing the last 2000 words on Saturday, a day I had originally planned to give myself off, but I did it. Twenty. Thousand. Words. In SIX days instead of five, but I still got it done.
For someone like me who also has a day job–night job; I work second shift–to even consider writing so many words in a week feels impossible. It feels like the kind of thing you say “yeah, one day,” but then one day never comes because, holy crap there’s no way.
As artists, creators, the day we stop indulging in our ambitions, that’s the day we might as well stop creating at all. It was our ambitions that led us to picking up the pen in the first place, or the keyboard, or the instrument, or the microphone. It’s ambition that guides us every day when we sit down to work on our art.
We must learn to trust those ambitions and indulge them when they speak up, because it’s those ambitions that show us what we’re capable of. I never would have believe I could do 20,000 words in a week. If told I could do it, I’d have said something like, “Oh, yeah, I could make a good start of it, but I don’t see being able to maintain it for a whole week.” But then once I got the idea, and let it grow and grow over a couple of weeks, the ambition grew, the goal began to form, and by the time I got to that week off work, I knew I was going to do it. I’d built it up so big in my head by then, I knew I HAD to. Why? Because I learned years ago to trust my ambitions, listen to them and let them guide me to where I’m supposed to be.
Hell, if I’d listened to my head back in high school, I would have continued in my computer programming classes and MAYBE gotten a decent job in computers. But at the time I already knew my heart wasn’t in it, that I was just taking those classes because I’d heard programmers made good money and, at the time, there was really nothing I wanted to do with my life.
Then one day I got the idea to try writing this story that had been in my head for a few weeks before, and soon the idea turned into an obsession and that obsession turned into an ambition: to be a writer.
I followed that dream and I’m still following it and I honestly can’t imagine having taken any other path in life.
So live ambitiously, dream of things you never thought you’d do, and then do them.