Let go of the projects that no longer serve you

I have a confession. You know those writers who have a novel in a drawer, collecting dust and going no where? I am one. Only my dusty novel is in a bag in the storage space above the master closet, and I left it there on purpose. 

I actually have no regrets. Letting go of that novel changed my writing for the better. 

This post is part of my 8 shifts series (you can find the first one here) - 8 shifts that helped me transform my writing. Maybe they'll work for you too!

Shift #6: Let go of the projects that no longer serve you.

I spent years on that book. I called it A Kestone Species, and it centered around the wolf hunt established in Minnesota after the wolf was removed from the Endangered Species List. I had an entire draft (albeit messy), and I thought I loved it. I was going to revise it and use it to find an agent.

Then I took a trip to northern Minnesota with my parents, not far from where the novel took place. I was determined to do research and use it to revise my novel. We went to a wolf center and hiked in the areas where the book took place.

I expected to feel connected and inspired. Instead, I had mixed emotions. After a few years of living in the mountains, this Minnesota landscape that once felt so inspiring now felt hard to read. The wolves I saw? They were beautiful, but rather than the majestic beasts I'd built them up to be, they looked like... animals. 

Colorado had become my home, and it had changed the way I saw and felt about my home state... and that changed my ability to relate to my book. I couldn't connect to it in a meaningful way, and writing became a struggle.

Finally, after more than a year, I gave myself permission to let it go. To see what happened if I wrote whatever interested me.

It was scary at first—I'd put so much time into that book. But a whole new world opened up to me. Short stories. A new novel that grows more and more vivid rather than fading. Some are based in Colorado and some are even based in Minnesota.

That's the thing: I've learned to appreciate that place in a new way since then, and perhaps the same could happen with A Keystone Species. It is still there, in that bag, after all. But for now, I know that setting it aside created the space I needed to write these other stories, where the writing continues to flow and I don't struggle to find my way forward.

Is there something you need to let go of? Try this prompt.

When it comes to my writing, I'm holding on to... 

It could be a story. A way of doing things. Just see what comes up when you look.

P.S. Ready for a writing breakthrough? Break free from writing rules that don't work and find your way with my FREE three-part series: Inside the Writers Mind. The first insight (and writing prompt) could be yours today.

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