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As soon as I give up on a project, it comes back from the grave…

by Jun 7, 2016On Writing: Craft and Commiseration0 comments

I’ve discovered something super annoying about my writing process that I wish I could tap into on purpose but it doesn’t seem to work that way. Namely, that when I get completely frustrated with a work in progress and decide that I’m completely stuck and that it’s time to work on another project for a bit, THAT’s the moment when I finally get unstuck in the first project. Unfortunately, this is not one of those things where, oh, if you had only waited a few more days you would have gotten unstuck anyway. I can force myself to stay project monogamous for months and spin my wheels and waste valuable writing time being stubborn and never get unstuck. But the moment I give myself the OK to switch and change the top priority project on my To Do board, that’s the moment when the original one starts clicking again.

zombie grave photo

“I know I seemed dead in the water but now I promise writing me will be a piece of cake!”

I’ve tried to trick myself, pretending I’m switching to another project when I’m really not, but that doesn’t work either. I have to actually, completely, 100% mentally commit to working on the other project for the first one to work again.

So, of course, this is crazy making. Because when I anticipate it and pick up project #2 with half an eye on #1 because I’m expecting it to come back to life at any minute, it doesn’t work. I have to go through all the anguish of deciding to abandon the first project, go through the work of getting reaquainted with the second project, and only when I make that commitment when I’m like, OK, this project is on now, that’s when the first project is like, no wait, please don’t give up on me.

It’s like it knows and gets jealous. I feel like if I could tap into whatever happens when I intentionally commit to moving on from a project for a bit and make that magic happen on purpose, I could get a lot more done faster.

Photo by Eldriva



  1. Months of craft work & a new outline later, I'm still stuck in the exact same spot - Hillary DePiano - […] is subject to change. Even my usual trick of quitting the problem project for another… which always seems to…

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Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

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