Seth Godin wrote about The Dip some time ago, and you can almost guarantee you’ll hit it when you’re doing a great work.
The only way to avoid that dip is to quit the project before you get there, but for me that’s not an option.
I’m completing my latest novel (Desert Vendetta) and will publish Part I on Amazon in about a week (there’s a preview .pdf here), and it was touch and go whether I’d finish.
Sure, there’s resistance all through the course, but the big bohunkas is at the end … real close to the end … when you hit that dip.
Hit it wrong and you’ll tear your bottom out. Or worse.
Don’t hit it at all, and that means the project will never get done.
Hit it nice and easy, and you’ll feel it. But you’ll get past it.
This project was a bear. It almost croaked in the starting blocks.
It almost was forgotten because some other projects looked so much better at the time.
It almost fell by the wayside as I dealt with a family tragedy. Okay, that’s a good enough reason; if you continue working through something like that there may be something wrong with you. But at some point it’s time to pick that back up again. I almost didn’t.
Then, the third draft. Dip approaching.
You can tell when you’re at that point. The work is no longer fun. In fact, you’re beginning to hate it. You see all these miles of bad road in front of you and wonder what you were smoking when you decided to take this project.
Sometimes it’s best to just cut the losses and go. A bad boss. A relationship gone south. That investment in hairless chinchillas isn’t as promising as it looked. The Dip is a good time to bail.
But if it’s your own project, your own baby, you might want to push on. Like the man said:
I felt it. Rather than bouncing out of my rack every morning ready to attack it I’m finding other things to do. The palm trees are taking over the yard and I need to tear them down. I need to clean the cobwebs and rat carcasses out of the attic. I’d rather bob for French fries before doing this project.
(Fast disclaimer: I don’t think I’ve ever bounced out of bed all ready to go in my life. But you get the idea.)
All the mental talk started ganging up on me:
- This work is so not good.
- I have too many highly inappropriate scenes that don’t move the story.
- That scene is just not realistic. Rip it apart and redo it. Doesn’t matter if I did that five times already, it needs a wrecking ball.
- I need to do more research, editing or mental (fill in the blank) before I can go.
- I hate my computer.
- I hate this project. Been working on it for nine months and it gets worse and worse every time I look at it.
- You mean I put nine months into the process and all I got was this butt-ugly baby?
- I have more personal roadblocks.
- If I run out of those personal roadblocks I’ll have to invent some more.
I’m not sure why I even bothered.
Maybe because I thought maybe the baby might turn out beautiful despite what I had to work with?
Maybe I hate the thought of investing all this time into the project and basically flushing it away?
Maybe because, at this stage in life, quitting isn’t an option?
Maybe I’m too dumb to know when I’m shovelling horse dung against the tide?
Maybe I was being intentional about making it through the dip.
Sit down, buckle up, shut up and hang on.
(What do you think? Have you hit that dip yet? How did you approach it? Please share in the comments below.)
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