February 23, 2024

The Difference between Dusty Projects and “Emotion Pits”

Many writers have a dream to finish a project that is in desperate need of oxygen, dying a slow death on some shelf or computer file. I’ve worked with lots of writers who don’t just have writing a book on their bucket list, but writing a particular book. People who fall into this category often either have experienced divine inspiration (they KNOW they have a good idea, and it’s just a matter of acting on it: FINISHING), or they’ve had a life–shaping or –altering experience that they feel called to write about. (These writers need to act too, but the when and how of it can feel contingent on outside factors, like someone’s death or being in a safe or healed enough place to do the writing.)

If you have one of these projects—heck, even if it’s just an idea that you haven’t started writing yet—then ask yourself: What are you waiting for? For more time? For your parents to die? For someone else to validate for you that it’s worth it?

Understanding what’s stopping you is a good first step. But here’s something else to consider. It might be that this particular book—the good idea, the memoir that needs to be written—is preventing you from writing other books or pursuing other ideas. Few writers I know aspire to write only one book. Most, in fact, dream about making writing a career. But if you’re letting the book you’re supposed to write take up all your energy (yes, books that are not being written take up A LOT of energy), then you might be sitting on an “emotion pit.”

The “emotion pit” is just like a “money pit.” You keep throwing your emotions into it but it never gets finished. In fact, it usually barely moves forward. And you can’t doing anything to make it better. The worst part about a book like this is that it’s preventing you from being a writer and completing ANY book.

Signs you have an “emotion pit” on your hands include:

  • You think about working on it at least twice a week but you haven’t done anything for over a year or more.
  • You have a feeling this is the book you’re supposed to write, but every time you think about it you get anxious and shut down.
  • You beat yourself up for not working on it.
  • You are tired of your own excuses for not working on it.

If these statements ring true, it’s time to give yourself permission to move on. Breathe fresh life into a new project. Allow yourself to finish something great. Write a new book to give you a different perspective, and then come back to your original project. Hopefully you’ll find that it doesn’t hold the same energy anymore—that it’s morphed into a project that actually allows you to experience flow, satisfaction, and ease. An “emotion pit” doesn’t have to be an “emotion pit” forever.

It can be hard to know whether you should dust off a project or if you need to leave it behind for a while. Let us help you figure it out. Email us and let us know what you’re working on. If you suspect you have an “emotion pit” on your hands, the Write Your Book in Six Months course may be just what you need to pump some oxygen into your writing life.

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