All it takes is one “break” from a passion project to completely lose steam.
For me, that break was a month and a half of no writing. My writing project was moving along. I established a steady writing routine. I had a good sense of my characters, who they were, and why they existed. My words-per-day quota was being met. My voice was coming alive. Then, for various reasons, I left part one of my three part novel on the digital shelf to whither away.
Has this happened to you? Do you have an unfinished manuscript, or even short story laying around? How about an outline of a painting that has yet to be filled in? An amazing business idea that never got off the ground? Don’t fret – this post is for you.
Why you should finish what you started
In my case, the first barrier to overcome was finding the why? Why should I start getting up at 5am again to crank out 800-1000 words? Why would I sacrifice my lunch break to edit, or revise? Why finish the ugly first draft?
Here are three reasons to dig deep and push through your creative block:
- Find that initial spark. Tap into whatever inspired you to start this project in the first place. What was your original premise? How did that make you feel then? What scene, imagery, or character made you laugh out loud, or maybe cry? Something about your work was uniquely you. Find it, and use that to inspire you to get to workin’!
- Prove you got this. Did you tell anyone about your project? You’ll probably have a lot of a supporters; people want to see you succeed. However, if you build reputation of starting projects without completing them, your friends, families, and biggest supporters will start to doubt your ability to ship anything. Squash the doubters’ doubts by proving that you can finish this project, once and for all.
- Your art is worth it. If your initial why inspired you to conceive and start your project, then your art is worth it to birth it. Set your initial metric for success to be project completion, above all else. If you went into it expecting profit, or accolades, shoot for completion first, and measure those metrics second.
Take a good look at everything you created to date. You might be pleasantly delighted, and that alone is a reason to keep going. Whatever you do, find that why, and keep the project alive.
How to finish your unfinished project
Once you’ve determined why you should finish your unfinished project, how do you actually finish it? Most projects are ambitious in nature, so the thought of completing can be overwhelming. Here are some tactics to get it done.
- Own your craft. If you are a writer, say you’re a writer. If you are an entrepreneur, say you’re an entrepreneur. Don’t wait for someone to validate your art, or profession, just go out and make it happen. I can’t take credit for this philosophy, as I first learned about it from Jeff Goins. This is an attitude adjustment, more so than a tactic. Believe you are what you say you are.
- Make it real. Product something that helps you visualize your end goal. This is a tip I
stoleborrowed from Michael Hyatt. Michael developed this hack to jumpstart stuck projects. He writes a few examples of how to create a visualization, such as, “When I wanted to publish a No. 1 New York Times bestselling book, I mocked up a page from the NYT bestseller list with my book in the top slot to hang in my office.” On my end, I mocked up the cover of the book. Selected just the write typography for the title, and just seeing my name as the author really created the positive enthusiasm I needed to push through.
- Pivot, then pivot again. If you are overwhelmed by perfectionism, or maybe your original concept was just too large, don’t be afraid to pivot. By this I mean, shatter your original vision and just take it in a new direction. There are several ways you can achieve this. Cut the project in half. Odds are your massive novel could first be released as a self-contained short story. Maybe it’s worth trimming it and releasing it in that format.You can also introduce a new bizarre variable to your project, and simply wrap it up. A project with a weird unexpected ending, or twist, is better than a project with no ending at all.
It’s not going to be easy, but it doesn’t have to be difficult either. Tap into your creativity, find your why, and go crush that project!
Don’t let your passion project go unfinished. Let me know in the comments how you got over the hump.
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