Or a decade. Or six months. You get the idea.
At first, it was the best idea you swore you’d ever come up with. You could picture it all in your mind — every step, every way it could go right. Even a few ways it could all fall apart.
But still. You couldn’t let it go. You knew this was the idea that was going to kickstart your dream career.
Until your passion project became the thing you dreaded. And started avoiding. And eventually dropped altogether.
What happened? How did the flame of excitement go out?
Here are a few possible reasons you keep putting off your work — even if you’re still convinced this is The Project that’s going to change everything.
You’re scared it won’t take off
Every writer — OK, every writer I’ve ever heard discuss the topic on a personal level — is afraid of not making it. Or they’re afraid of trying something and getting rejected. OR, they just worry that they’ll put all their time and effort into a thing that won’t pay off, literally or otherwise.
It’s normal to be afraid. But the writers who succeed in their specific area of work also make an effort to pursue their passions regardless of how terrifying it can feel. If you keep putting something off, you’re not going to get “less” afraid of doing it. In fact, it might even become harder to get back into — or start — the longer you procrastinate.
Your time management skills … let’s be honest, they’re terrible
Even if you’re extremely motivated to work on a project, nothing will ever happen if you can’t figure out how to make time to write.
The problem is, many of us — don’t be embarrassed, it’s OK — have absolutely no idea how to manage our time. We need to eat, sleep, bathe, take care of our [fur] children, work, we also want to read books and play video games and relax because it’s possible to love what you’re writing and still not feel like doing it because writing is work, has always been work, will always be work, even when it doesn’t FEEL like work.
Awful at schedules, commitments, and making time to do things you do and don’t like? Here are my best time management tips for aspiring writers.
You’re trying to act like a superhuman and it isn’t working
When I first started working professionally as a writer, I almost didn’t make it because I was convinced working more was better than working smart. I still struggle to balance commitments, work as an “essentialist” and limit the amount of personal and professional goals I set for myself.
For many people, this is a lifelong struggle. But if you’re completely honest with yourself, you’ll realize that the reason you aren’t working on the project you really want to work on has everything to do with the 12,000 other things on your to-do list. Do they really need to be there? All of them? Probably not.
It’s not really your ‘passion’ anymore
Maybe the reason you stopped working on it has nothing to do with fear or time management or trying to Do All The Things. Maybe you hit pause because you just didn’t want to work on it anymore. Here’s some truth for you: You don’t have to write something “for fun” if you don’t want to.
Sometimes we “grow out” of our hobbies, passions, and dreams. And that’s OK. Ideas for creative projects often sound a lot better in our heads than they actually are, and we don’t realize it until we start working on them. Putting a project to rest does not make you a failure. It makes you an honest writer who is able to shift their focus to things that are most important, even if it means leaving some things behind.
If your passion project has been collecting dust for weeks, months, or even years, ask yourself the important questions. Am I afraid of failing? Am I spending my time doing something I can let go of to make more room for this? Has the window of passion for this thing closed?
You have a choice. You can do what needs to be done to pick it back up again. Or you can say goodbye. Either way, you don’t have to let it hang over your head any longer. Give yourself some peace, whether it reignites the fire in your soul or temporarily leaves an empty space where the idea used to be.
If you found this post helpful, you might also want to read these. How to Deal With the Real-Life "Plot Twists" That Keep You From Writing 3 Signs You're Finally Doing What You're Supposed to Be Doing For Writers Who Just Want to Make Things, No Strings Attached
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.