"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Food for Thought--Handling Those Passion Projects!


We all have them.
You know: the creative projects that don't put much money in your pockets, but "feed" your soul and make your heart sing.
The ones you can't wait to work on, even after a hard day's work. The ones that allow you to truly express yourself and make a difference.

Sometimes it can be "pro bono" work for a local charity. Or the newsletter at your church.
For me, it's definitely my poetry.
Did I mention it's my first literary love? Way back before blogging existed, I poured my heart out over romantic poetry.

And to my delight, some of it has been published in anthologies and magazines.
But back then, I had fewer clients, more time, and fewer competing demands.
How about you?

So the $64,000 question becomes...
How do you balance work that you truly dig, with work that may not be as enjoyable, but often pays the bills?

Jen's Homemade Pineapple Salsa
Right now, I'm feeling that tug.
I'm currently working on a poetry chapbook to be released later this year, in addition to blog work for clients, consultations provided to other writers, and articles that I need to submit to help keep my ledger "in the black."

I'm also looking into the possibility of doing some food writing, as I love to cook and conduct reviews on cookbooks and restaurants.

Truth be told, most creative folks are passionate about an array of things. Which is why you'll often see actresses that also sing, dance, and design their own clothes line.
The key to success is proper perspective and balance.
(And a good agent doesn't hurt either.)

If you'd like to pursue your passion projects, without guilt or detriment to other obligations here are a few things to consider:

1. Passion projects should be prioritized properly. One approach is to get up a little earlier in the morning to fit them in. Some may even be worked on during lunch breaks, or late at night when everyone is tucked away in bed, and the house is quiet.

2.  Remember that it's okay to have two loves here.
Don't feel guilty. Passion projects often keep us energized and inspire us to greater heights.

3. Consider cutting back a little on social media to make more progress.
Even a few hours less a week can make a measurable difference.

4. Don't overlook the advantages of collaborating.
There's some validity to the expression, "Two heads are better than one." Collaborative projects can save time, build supportive relationships, and allow writers to partner with individuals whose strengths compensate their weaknesses.

5. Keep a weekly calendar.
It will help you to become organized, focused on your goals, and deadline oriented.

6. Control outside distractions.
They can be a real time thief. For example, this morning I got a call from a relative of mine. Interested to learn what was going on in her world, I took the call, even though I was in the middle of penning this piece. My initial goal was to devote just
10-15 minutes or so for the conversation. But, she got a little sidetracked, and when I looked up, nearly an hour had passed by the time we said goodbye.
Sound familiar?

To sum things up here, Passion Projects are a great way to express our individual talents, touch others, and make a difference through our gifts. When handled properly, they can be a blessing that enhances us spiritually, mentally and professionally.

Your turn.
What's your one passion project?
Are you working on it now?
Any tips you'd like to share for greater success?


  1. Appreciate the ideas and tips; I am always working to find a better balance for all things. I have a tendency to not take on projects (crafty stuff, cooking, etc.) if I don't think I can finish in a reasonable time, or if I think it will overload the schedule. Sometimes a shift in the schedule is necessary for the fun and refreshment other passion projects can bring. Thanks for the insight!

    1. How true, Karen! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes that sits on my wall: "The best way to know life is to love many things." Thanks for taking time to comment. :-)

  2. Jen, first of all, your pineapple salsa looks fantastic! Recipe? And then - passion projects - where do I start? I, too, love poetry and have even incorporated it into a short book of romances I published with Create Space. I also want to do a CS best of my blog book. But right now it's all about the outdoors. We're painting the house (ourselves - mostly me) and putting up stuff from the garden, dog sitting and so much more. Writing projects, of necessity, are on hold. Well, except for the edits my beta reader just handed back to me for book #3. But, I love your post and so appreciate the permission to indulge our passions. Thanks!!.

    1. Sue,

      Thanks so much. It's easy to make. Will send recipe to you via email. Okay? I can relate to the many other projects too--I've been trying to get a garden going this year in my backyard. Hoping to "sow" a few ingredients to add to next year's recipes. And you know...I always love hearing from
      you. :-)

  3. These are all excellent points. I write my best poetry when something good or bad is going on in my life. It isn't always about me. But when I feel the urge, I must pen my poem. It can sit for a while; but I must get it out. Recently someone asked me to read her work, and I find it rewarding to be helpful, but the other payoff is it challenges me to try a new genre.

    I get sidetracked when I go on Facebook, so I MUST limit myself, not always easy for a nosy woman.

  4. Hi Lin,

    Thanks so much for adding to the mix here. The good thing about poetry is that creating it and becoming "versed" in it, can enhance other forms of writing through word play, structure, rhythm, etc.
    And as far as Facebook?
    I feel ya'. :-)

  5. Great tips. One of the things that helps me is having a concrete goal in mind. I do try and limit any social media. I do have a passion project and as soon as I get some free time, I plan on working on it - I do have a goal for that, so I know it'll all come together eventually. I love to cook too!

  6. Hi Lynn,

    It truly "feeds" my spirit when readers take time to comment. Thanks so much. I enjoyed your site at "What's for Dinner?" Keep me posted on the progress of that passion project, will you? :-)

  7. Jen--

    Great advice, as usual. My passion project is my current WIP, but I seem to be in a rut, since I haven't made much headway on it lately.

    Congratulations on the chapbook. That sounds like the perfect way to combine your passion with your talent.

    I was moving around books from one shelf to another recently, and wondered if you've ever read Leonard Pitts, Jr's novel "Freeman." If you have not, you should buy it immediately, It is THAT good. (I've approached perfect strangers in the airport and told them about it. Also very good is Sue Monk Kidd's "The Invention of Wings.")

  8. Hi Sioux,
    Don't fret; sometimes we all get "stuck." Stay with it.
    I'm really geeked about the poetry book, hopefully it will be out by late fall.
    No, I've never read "Freeman." Maybe I can check it out at my local library. Thanks so much for connecting today. :-) I appreciate it.