Start Your Passion Project Right Now by Taking 5 Small Steps

Start Your Passion Project Right Now by Taking 5 Small Steps

You’ve had a passion project (or seven) rattling around inside your brain for months now.

Maybe you love telling people about it, or maybe you’re keeping mum — either way, you can’t stop thinking about how amazing it will be when you finally start working on it.

But for some reason, you just haven’t taken the first step.

Sometimes we put off getting started on passion projects because we’re waiting for just the right time, when we’ll have the energy or the spare time to tackle it. You know: After the kids go to college, or after you meet that big deadline at work.

Why your passion project doesn’t have to wait

Meanwhile, we end up ignoring all these fabulous little fragments of time we do have throughout our days, while we’re waiting for the dentist or checking Facebook on our lunch breaks.

Sure, it would be great to have generous amounts of uninterrupted time every afternoon to draft your novel or work on your magnum opus, but if you put off getting started until “the right moment,” you may never get started at all.

Here are five small steps you can take to light a fire under your passion project today.

1. Visualize why it matters — and then commit

What’s so special to you about this project? What makes it so important that you’re willing to give up staying current on the latest TV series, or say no to happy hour?

If you can identify why completing this project is so important to you, you can hold it like a beacon of light when darkness and frustration threaten to close in.

Many of us have multiple dream projects and boundless optimism about how much we can actually accomplish. Maybe dreams of writing your grandmother’s recipes into a cookbook are warring with visions of that screenplay you’ve been dying to write. Maybe you’ve thought of starting a blog, but you also have a seven-book fantasy series plucking at your attention.

Trying to work on all these projects at once will just result in none of them getting done.

Some day you might get to them all, but right now, you need to commit to the one that feels most important.

Write down the name of your project and the reason it’s so important to you, and put it where you’ll see it regularly.

2. Get organized

The thing about passion projects is so often they’re very, very big. We’re not talking “bake a cake,” we’re talking “open a bakery.” We’re not talking “write an email to grandma,” we’re talking “write a novel.”

In the face of projects that will span multiple months — and maybe even years — it’s easy to get caught standing like a deer in the headlights, frozen by just how much will be required to get it done.

It’s time to get organized. Create a new file or open a new notebook (I like to create a new Evernote folder). Now, and over the next few weeks, it’s time to brainstorm everything you know about your project:

  • What research will you need to do?
  • Can your research be broken down into several parts or phases?
  • Will you need to enlist anyone’s help?
  • What materials do you need to get started?
  • Do you need to learn any new skills?

By dumping your project out of your brain and onto paper, it becomes more than just a dream. Now it’s something you’re actually doing.

3. Make a plan…

Start organizing your brain dump into action steps, breaking down every element into bite-sized chunks.

Every project is made up of building blocks: Novels can be broken into chapters, chapters into scenes, scenes into beats. It’s time to find the building blocks of your own passion project.

The best way to make a plan for completing your dream project is to get as granular as possible until you have a list of discrete, actionable tasks.

For example, one aspect of your goal to turn your hobby travel blog into a memoir that’s ready to pitch to agents might be to network with other writes who know how to write a memoir. It’s an important task, but it’s not an actionable goal.

Break it down into its components: Smaller tasks like identifying five memoirists you want to meet and becoming an active commenter on their blogs; or joining a popular weekly Twitter chat.


4. …Then make a schedule

Once you know what steps you need to take, build project time into your schedule. It’s not enough just to wish for the time. If you really want to do it, you need to make the time.

Treat your passion project time as sacred. You wouldn’t put off a job interview or dinner with your best friend because the house needed cleaning, so don’t let that get in the way of your project progress, either.

Remember, you don’t always need a big window of time! You’d be surprised how much you can get done in five minutes here in 30 minutes there — “throw away” time you might currently waste scrolling through your phone or checking your email (again and again).

Instead, why not give yourself the gift of using those spare minutes to work on your project?

5. Write something

You didn’t think I was going to let you get away with just planning, did you?

Research and planning are deceptively productive. You may need to know the history of the Chinese banking system in order to write that scene, but it’s way too easy to spiral into a Wikipedia rabbit hole once you’ve found the information you need, taking more and more notes but never actually writing.

Don’t wait for the day when you get to retire into a beautiful cabin in the woods or attend a writers retreat without any other obligations. Don’t wait for the muse to come visit. Don’t wait for a more flexible job to come along, or the weather to get better, or the house to be completely spotless.

If you ever truly want to finish your passion project, you need to train yourself to write even when there is no muse, even when there is no babbling brook, even when you’re tired, even when you only have five minutes.

If you can write 300 words in half an hour and you do that every single day, at the end of the year you will most certainly have the first draft of a novel.

What one thing will you do today toward your dream project? Tell us in the comments!

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via nd3000 / Shutterstock 

Filed Under: Craft


  • Neil Larkins says:

    My post has a typo I didn’t catch: “29” years should be “20” years. Sorry.

  • Neil Larkins says:

    After 29 years of putting off my passion project (a memoir), four years ago I got into it. I’d write furiously for weeks, then put it aside for more weeks, sometimes a month or two and attack it again. I finished it a year ago but had to put off detailing it for another year because my wife passed away. I could not bring myself to work on it, even though she wasn’t in it. Now I’ve gotten back to the thing to hone and refine it…and it seems an absolute mess. I’m not well enough to do a major revision and don’t know how I’d rewrite it even if I was up to the task. So, here I am. My advice on starting a passion project? Get that thing done while you still have the passion and energy and time. Wait too long and massive life change may keep it from being finished.

  • paige says:

    Jessie – Woke up this morning knowing I need to “play bigger” with my fiber art. By noon, I knew it was to be a “passion project”. Your article was really helpful, with concrete steps to take. Thanks so much

  • Zo says:

    Uh I still don’t know what a passion project is.

  • Hi! Of course, if you want to get an answer for a question how to start writing a novel, someone can answer fun for you: ” Just take a paper and write”, but actually it is not so easy as it may seem at first sight! That is why I fully agree with you that most of the people used to look for various reasons why to postpone start writing for later. Talking about me, when I start doing something, I always have to reach it, otherwise I will not respect myself!
    I really liked your article and I am sure it will be helpful for many beginner writers.

  • zahoor says:

    jessie so impressive your way and work.would it be possible for a man like me to become a good writer if i m having an intense love and natural attitude to write .

  • Tayyab says:

    So nice directional piece of writing. I hope it will workout for me! 🙂

  • Fran says:

    Thanks for the great information.
    Don’t ever quit writing and working your imagination “muscle”. I am in my early 80s and still writing. My imagination is still good (was better until medication hindered), but I try to write something either new or rewrite and/or change something I have already written each day. Am working on a fitness book at the present. Hope to have it finished in a few weeks.
    Have a blessed day.

  • Jo Carter says:

    I’m so glad to see The Write Life using images with text over them. Much better for Pinterest!! 🙂

  • Beryl says:

    This article was absolutely freaking fabulous. Thank you! Action steps are the theme of my entire life right now!

  • Great post, Jessie!
    To often I get sucked down that rabbit hole. Committing time to write (or whatever else is your passion), is so important.

  • Kim S. says:

    Excellent practical advice for those of us who aspire to be writers but who lack discipline. Why are creative people such as I am so often in our heads and not translating it to paper? Thank you for this article. I especially appreciated your insistence that we “make time,” even if it’s just five minutes. You are right. I do waste time daily when I could be writing. Three hundred words in 30 minutes every day is a piece of cake!

    I am motivated to do better! Many thanks.

  • Emily Brady says:

    Great advice! Stage fright is the biggest thing that keeps me from starting passion projects. If it’s something you truly believe could be great, the stakes are a little higher. The key is committing, getting something on the page, and moving from there. Even if it turns into little more than a “learning experience,” it’s better to give the project a chance than to kill it with doubt before you start.

  • A M Khosru says:

    This friendly good advice is going to do me a lot of good. I’m rolling up my sleeve just now. I’ve already lost a pretty much time only cherishing the dream.

  • Jeck Zhang says:

    This is a good article for someone maybe,but not for me.I have readen many articles like this.It is good but it is not useful for me.I am not a man who always wait for the right time.It is just because that I have exprienced some special,I can not find my soul till now.

  • Madalina says:

    My dream project is to have my blog with stories for children. I am thinking about that for almost 1 year and I did nothing until now, I say that I have not the same imagination as when I was in high school, for example when I used to write often and easily. But after reading this post I made a plan, and I will work every day a bit go get there. Thanks 🙂

    • Jessie Kwak says:

      Yes!!! That’s so great to hear, Madalina. I think you’ve hit on something a lot of people worry about – that our imagination has faded as we got older. I certainly worry about that from time to time.

      But I think imagination is just a muscle you have to keep exercising. I’m so glad this post inspired you to make a plan. Happy writing!

      • Madalina says:

        Thank you so much 🙂

      • Lorene Albers says:

        Hi Jessie:

        There’s no fear of your imagination fading as you get older, in fact, imagination is what keeps you young and alive.

        I’m in my seventies & have been writing for a number of years, albeit mostly as a script writer at my job in television. I have, however, (self) published a novel and am working on a punchy little self-help book as well as on a pseudo-memoir. In case you’re wondering what that means, it’s a collection of essays, based on wartime childhood memories, but largely embellished (using my imagination & inventing stuff, see?)

        I also have a bunch of short stories that I intend to publish on my blog, if I ever get around to setting one up. Imagination is one thing but technology quite another.

        Sorry, this is a bit long. I just wanted to enjoin all you writers out there, if you’re blessed with a great imagination, use it whenever and wherever possible. It’s a gift to be treasured – it’s free – and it’s here for us to share with one another and with the rest of the world.

      • Melissa says:

        I been a writer off and on since I was ten years old.
        I do have trouble, with my grammar. But I know the
        more I write the better I get. I want to get my pieces,
        published but have to get money up to do that.
        this day and time jobs are not as easy as 20 years ago.
        any tips I appreciate it thanks.

  • Robert says:

    Finding out what drives you as a freelancer is key. Finding your passion and embracing it is also key. When freelancers think about their passion, they should keep the above tips in mind. Put your doubts aside and go for it!

    • Jessie Kwak says:

      Well said, Robert. The biggest difference I’ve seen between people that are successful freelancers and writers and those who aren’t is that the successful people just go for it – no matter what their doubts are.

  • Ramona says:

    What helps me: set a deadline, tell everyone about what I’m gonna ‘release’ at said deadline (it makes me look silly to not reach it, so I’ll do my best to work on the project) and start the work in small ‘bits’. I’ve also created a small ‘business’ plan for my work and it’s showing some great results. It allowed me to launch a course in just 3 months (by working 2 hours/day – am a ‘full time’ mom the rest of the day).

  • Lisa Evola says:

    so weird…I have a series of posts starting tomorrow on unleashing your passion. Loved this – great confirmation for me!!

  • john berger says:

    This article I have enjoyed to the point of naming my book and the reason its so important to me to write, thankyou for that and hopefully I can make a further entry soon, informing that I have began my book

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