TL;DR I don’t want to.
There are so many routes to climb, so many crags to explore, so many rock types to pull on. I want to progress in my climbing, but I don’t want to fixate on a single route for days/weeks or even more!
So, how important is it to have a project in order to improve your climbing? By improve I mean climbing harder grades and being capable of doing it consistently.
For example, if I focus for 6 months on a single 5.11 and then send it, can I claim to be a 5.11 climber? What if I still flail on 5.10s?
If I want to break into the 5.11, do I need to have a focus project, or can I keep on training, try hard until I can send the grade without a specific single commitment?
I don’t think everyone needs a project to progress but some people may. When I first moved to Kentucky, I had done a few 12’s but decided I’d rather do a bunch of 11’s to build my base out rather than beat 12s into submission. I did this for 2.5 years, probably overdoing it. I climbed ~500 routes in that time and learned a lot about movement, reading the rock and strategy. And then I decided to put that knowledge to work. I went from 12b to 13a in 7 months.
My method is not right for everyone (and probably wasn’t the best for me) but I think some emphasis on insisting routes and doing lots of submax climbing is good for your overall climbing. Maybe even doing that in between projects so that you can get used to actually sending things.
Honestly it sounds like you’re happy exploring new crags and sending many different routes. I don’t see why you should force yourself to do something you don’t want to…
… that said I think if you start doing mini projects, or start sending the same route twice (trying to send it with better technique the second time), then you will start to appreciate the process more and more…?
I started projecting this year, and I’m absolutely loving it. You develop this strange, intimate relationship with the rock. I’ve already spent 10 sessions on the same 8a+ project of mine, which means I’ve spent more time on that route than with some of my best friends. I can give you detailled descriptions of how each hold on every route that I climbed this year felt like. I can’t even remember any of the routes that I sent in previous years, so I can only guess they meant very little to me. So for me, I’m glad I decided to try projecting because beforehand I really didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I am.
You don’t NEED to do anything, but projecting is a skill like anything else. No matter how many moderates you do, you won’t improve at projecting. So if you want to get good at it, you’ll have to do it.
If you want to push your upper limits, you’ll have to do it, and you’ll have to be good at doing it.
And, of course, @Kris provides a generous serving of Hard Truth™
The trick is knowing when to quit. Maybe.