Sometimes, nothing seems to work. You've read all the how-to-write posts, you planned with care, you had a perfect outline-- and then, your passion project fell flat. It just wouldn't come. Or you started it and then everything sort of died out. Suddenly, the book you're so invested in has simply... gone wrong.
You'll find lots of posts out there telling you two different things.
I believe, though, that passion projects gone wrong CAN be saved. They should be!
So we've covered three basic principles on why you should want to save your passion project. But how do we salvage it when it has gone very, very wrong?
First of all, take a step back and don't freak out. While it can be very overwhelming to realize your passion project is not working out the way you hoped, take a moment to remind yourself that this is just part of the writing game and you'll work it out just fine. You might need to set aside your project for a little bit-- I suggest at least a week. When you're right in the middle of something, every problem is magnified and it's hard to see things objectively.
After some time, reevaluate your book. Now is the time to reread what you already have done-- whether that's a full novel, a handful of scenes, or scraps of notes, research, and outlines. Taking the time away from it before doing this step will help you look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself these questions:
Now is the time to get feedback. Sometimes, even after reevaluation, it can be hard to pinpoint what exactly isn't working for your novel. And even if you think you know what the problem might be, getting another opinion is a good idea. Remember how I said fresh eyes to look at your project is good? That includes eyes who have the ability to look in from the outside. Especially with passion projects, it's important to have someone who isn't as attached as you give you honest feedback. But who do you get to give you some constructive thoughts?
Decide whether it is time to write your book or not. The truth is, sometimes it's you that's holding the book back. Don't misunderstand me. There's NOTHING wrong with this. Sometimes, though, the topics talked about, the writing required, or the soul that the book needs is something you just can't give yet. That's ok. Give yourself time to learn and grow as a writer, and allow yourself the grace to put it in the vault for a while until you're ready to write it. There's many reasons it might not be the time to write your passion project.
You might be thinking, "But wait a minute, I thought you were saying that you shouldn't abandon your book?". That's exactly right. I don't think you should abandon it. Sometimes, though, you need to allow time to pass in order to be able to write the best book you can.
As time passes, revisit your novel from time to time and go through the questions I listed above again. Let yourself mull over the story as you continue writing in other things. Don't just push it out of your mind and ignore it-- think about it. While you're at it, we offer a great workbook on how to take a productive writing break. The best part is, it's free! Just use the sign-up form below and you'll instantly have access to this and more.
How about you? Do you have a passion project that just seemed to go all wrong? What did you do about it?