Why do we lose passion for a writing project? I’m not talking about writer’s block or fear of the page here. Those are different. When we lose passion for a story there’s a kind of numbness, a big shrug of indifference around the whole thing.
I’ve been in this place for awhile now with my novella, Raven In Gray. (Boo-hoo.) So I decided it was time to really examine this feeling and find out what it’s about. In this post I share what I discovered. If you’ve lost passion for a project, maybe you’ll relate. And if you’re still gung-ho about your current work in progress (yay!) perhaps these insights will help you avoid losing passion down the line!
1. You’ve strayed from your why.
When you initiated this project there was a reason why. Something about it excited you. Ask yourself if you’ve lost sight of your why. Is your why still valid? Or do you need to create a bigger, more meaningful why?
With RIG, I wanted to challenge myself to write a story in a very specific style. To create a darkly sensual, visceral world, with vivid imagery and metaphor, using short sentences, in a rarely used POV. After writing the first draft, I don’t feel I’m living up to the challenge. Well, perhaps that has something to do with my loss of passion! I need to reconsider my why.
2. The stakes are too low.
You lose passion when you’re bored. And you get bored when a character’s wants aren’t big enough, the obstacles aren’t difficult enough, and the stakes aren’t high enough.
Do your characters have it too easy? Turn up the volume in every respect and (hopefully) you’ll get turned on in the process.
3. The characters aren’t real enough.
Caricatures are boring, while real human beings are deeply complex and endlessly intriguing. Spend some time diving into their psyches and history. Maybe you just don’t know them well enough yet. When a character is real they have a life of their own. You never know what they’ll say or do next, and that’s exciting. Writing a book is a lot like being in a romantic relationship. The passion level directly correlates to the mystery level!
4. It’s too close to home.
Yes, you should write what you know (and what you don’t know,) but if you’re revisiting a chapter from your past every time you open Scrivener or Word, the project may run out of steam. I absolutely believe that writing is an effective tool for healing, but once you’ve processed your experience there won’t be much motivation left to continue writing, revising and editing.
If you are writing your own story as a way to help others, and that’s your why, great, go for it. But if you are only writing it because you think it makes a good story, the passion may fade as you grow and heal yourself.
So, what can we do when we lose passion?
How do we know whether to throw in the towel or keep trying?
Here’s what I suggest: go to the final vision. Imagine the completed book. Imagine seeing it up on Amazon or holding it in your hands. How does that image make you feel? If it’s something you truly want to do and should do, it will feel good in your body. You will feel a lightness and an expansion. But if you feel a constricting energy – kind of an ookieness, inside… well, you might want to consider letting it go.
During the many years I spent writing Dharma and Desire, there were plenty of times I was stuck, lacking passion and motivation. But in my heart I always knew it would get done. It had to get done. The final vision was always something that brought me joy. So I couldn’t let it go.
But sometimes we do need to let projects go. It’s sad, but there’s no shame in it. I may have to swallow that bitter pill myself.
And who knows? Maybe we’ll be struck by inspiration at a later date and find our passion once again.
Have you lost passion for a project? Why? Were you able to rekindle the passion or did you decide to let the project go?