Knowing when to walk away

I wish I could say everything we start as writers ends up as a fantastic book that readers adore and critics rave about. Wouldn’t that be awesome? *pauses to ponder the perfection*

Sadly, it’s far from the truth. First drafts are war. They’re bloody. Our story medics work diligently to tourniquet the worst of the problems as our muses forge onward to the glorious hallowed lands of “The End.”

But when the carnage settles, what we’re left with is often in desperate needs of some editorial TLC. Maybe even some serious rewriting triage. Sometimes, however, what remains should be let go, for its sake and ours.

But how do you know when it’s best to walk away?

I recently found myself in this struggle. It ultimately became what I termed a nuclear writing summit in my brain at about 1:30 a.m. one morning. (I know you fellow writers feel me on this one. These important mental summits ALWAYS happen when we’re trying to sleep, right?). By the time my muse, internal editor and internal time manager concluded their three-way war, the decision was obvious. The story I’d just finished wasn’t worth trying to salvage.

It’s a tough decision. I’m sure that in time I’ll drag the story back out, dust its damaged remains off and resuscitate the idea. But it’ll have to wait until I have time to do so. Decisions like these are never easy.

But in my humble opinion they are necessary. Writing may be a passion, but it is first and foremost a business. Every decision made must contribute to the bottom line. Every delay must be reasonable, necessary and surmountable. That’s how I’m tackling 2017.

It took me quite a while to accept that not every word I write will get published. Not every idea is worth a book. At first I thought the realization would hurt, wound my muse. In truth she’s happy. Relieved. I’ve freed myself from the strangleholds of making a less than book perfect idea work.

What about you? Have you ever walked away from a project or something you started, then realized you shouldn’t have?

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This entry was posted in Business, Cara Carnes, Craft, romance, Writer's Life, Writing Advice, writing life. Bookmark the permalink.

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