Jokes aside, when it comes to writing a passion project, the real question is — is there a right way?

We’ll talk about what a passion project is in a moment… and muse about whether all writing projects are really passion projects (or whether they should be)… but for now, I’ll start with the personal investment I have in this matter. You see, the end of my summer was looking pretty smooth. I was working on The Many, a fantasy novel, and chronicling my progress in “A Chronicle of Creation” here on the blog. I was blogging. I was working on one other project that I’ll leave a mystery. Then up popped my number… and a passion project called my name. 

For a few days I agonized over what to do and didn’t get much writing done. The passion project won out, as passion projects often do, and I began happily working away. Two things are for certain. One, that the happy writer is writing a passion project. Two, that the starving writer is writing a passion project. Passion project and written for the market are two very separate things. The most lucrative writing occurs in areas of the market that not all of us want to touch. All the same, I had an option between a few well-developed projects in defined genre areas and this passion project, which is neither well-developed nor occurs in an especially defined genre. And I chose… I already said it. You guessed it, anyway. This isn’t really a noble decision. It might be a bit of a stupid decision. 

Or is it?

When I look back at my mega article about why writers write, featuring the responses of over sixty writers from Twitter’s #WritingCommunity, I notice some common threads. For one, writers write because they love to write. For two, many writers write because the characters talk to them. Yes, that makes us sound a little crazy. No, we’re not completely crazy. Maybe a little touched in the head. 

What is a passion project, anyway? A passion project is that big, ambitious project you’ve always wanted to write. Actually, it doesn’t have to be big or ambitious — it just has to be that thing you’ve always wanted to write, but perhaps have held back for a variety of reasons. Because it isn’t fit for the market, because you don’t think anyone would want to read it, because it’s too big and ambitious, because you’ve tried and failed to write it before. Pretty much all of these apply to my passion project except that I think people would like to read it, in the end, if I wrote it write. Oops, I mean right. Slip of the typing fingers.

My passion project is an epic. Not an epic poem. An epic novel. It’s sort of like a glimpse into or a prediction of the future. And I will leave it at that. Suffice to say that the thing is massive and massively ambitious. It’s practically three stories rolled into one. The drafts, especially the early ones, will be gargantuan. I’ve tried and failed to write this story too many times to count, in a variety of forms. It stems from the project I talked about in “The Evolution of Writing Projects,” which you should go read. I’m afraid of this project, but I’m deeply attached to its characters and its story. So when it called my name, I came running back with open arms. Earlier this year, I’d written about 30,000 words of a draft before deciding I’d made a wrong turn, upon which I shelved what I had. In the past few days, I’ve read it over and started afresh, with a new hook and a new beginning. 

Mostly, I’m writing this passion project because I think the story bears an important message. 

very important message that I think the world needs to hear. Yeah, that’s a little hubristic of me to say. But I’m excited. At the very least, I need to hear this message. And I hope, someday, I’ll get to roll that story out here on the blog for all of you, in one form or another. If it turns out the way I envision it, it’ll truly be my magnum opus. That’s a little alarming to think about at the age of twenty-one, but honestly. If we’re all born with one true story, this is mine. I’ll leave it at that for now.

And I encourage you to write your passion project, too. Because passion shines through like nothing else. It makes writing sparkle. When you care about something, you write it better. When you hold yourself back, you write things worse. So dust off that unfinished draft in your drawer (or in that computer file) and get a move on. You have words to share. Share them. Tell that story that only you can tell. Speak out!

And thanks for listening. I’m glad you’re here, traveler!

featured image for "Writing a Passion Project"
the cover of the album "Folklore"

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