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What is your Passion Project?

My mother and father retired from education early and took on a passion project that sustained them for ten years.  I will never forget my dad’s reaction when asked what he did.  “I was a high school teacher but LET ME TELL YOU about what I’M DOING NOW.”  His passion project, producing and touring travel films, was his love, clearly.  Delightfully.  

When asked the inevitable question, what do you do, we  tend to react within very narrow boundaries – the only activity that comes to mind is a job. The only thing worth discussing is what we do to in order to pay the bills.  The real answer is not what se do, the real answer is who we are.  

It’s not about the career or the job.

Its about what you love.  What would you say if instead of hearing the question,  what do you do, you  hear  – what is your passion project?  I bet you have a better answer.  

Passion Projects are actives and interest that are deep,  involving,  messy,  peripatetic. Passion Projects are hobbies gone rogue dragging you along for the ride.   When describing a Passion Project, the client usually begins with — it’s always something I wanted to do.  They light up when they describe it.

 A Passion Project is not a “bucket list”.  You aren’t ticking off items from a long standing list.  It’s delving into number 6 on that list –  reading the books, collecting the books, collecting memorabilia, starting a blog, attending the lectures, taking classes, traveling to the sites, visiting the museums. Passion and focus informs every next step.  Passion Projects exisist and are pursued for no other purpose than enrichment, no other reason is needed than to find a way to live deeply and with  great concentration and effort. 

Passion Projects do not belong to someone else.  You are not in a passion project if you are helping or driving or suffering in silence as your partner marks off every move on the battle field at Gettysburg (or, in the case of my husband, required to travel to Sussex to visit Virginia Woolf’s home. I love him, he did not need to join me). If you share a Passion Project with your partner, all the better.  If not, you will figure it out.    

Passion projects can be the deep study of a single subject or person.  This can lead to wine tasting trips to Provence, Pilgrimages to St. James, Castle tours in Germany. It can lead to taking classes and later teaching classes.  The Osher Lifelong Learning programs are predicated on passion projects.  Who better to teach a class than someone who is fascinated about the subject?

None of the above pursuits makes money.  Not an hour of practice and study translates into cash.  Which is much the point.   

A Passion Project is the answer when asked, what do you do?  I am studying El Greco and am interested in the political subtext in his more famous paintings.  I’ve just schedule a trip to Spain to further research the works themselves.

I am learning the Ukulele and am now playing in a group and we are all traveling to The Big Island to refine our strumming.

It sounds indulgent and in some contexts, it can be. But it’s also empowering and enlightening.  If you are pursuing your passion, if what you are doing really wakes you up, then other ideas and opportunities will present themselves, related to your project or not.    

The Muse appreciates daily creative exercise as much as a personal trainer appreciates daily workouts.   

Passion projects are not about making and selling, they are all  about doing and being.  Explore what you love and be exactly who you want to be.

 Passion projects will give you something to say.  And you will say it with enthusiasm and yes, passion.

“Attending the Plotting Madness boot camp was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and came away with a completed outline for my novel. I recommend the boot camp for writers of all levels.” ~ Linda Childers

Follow your passion by signing up for one of our writing boot camps – 


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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