Should You Keep Writing or Abandon Your Work?

In Aswan Egypt sits the world’s tallest stone obelisk, at a massive 137 feet in length. Pity that it’s laying down. After years or even decades of carving the monument from stone, Egyptians abandoned the project. Why? Because a massive crack developed along the center. As writers, crafting a novel can feel like chiseling words out of stone. But if a fundamental flaw develops in your work, should you keep writing or should you abandon it all together? Here are three things to consider.

How Strong is Your Passion?

If you strongly believe in the core idea, you might find something to salvage. Investing more time can yield results, despite possible flaws. In fact, the Japanese build a whole philosophy, called Kintsugi, around the idea of celebrating mistakes and imperfections.

Yet if you constantly bang your head against your writing again and again, it could be a sign to let it go. Maybe you no longer connect to the idea the way you once had. Better to chase after something you believe in than to struggle with a writing that no longer moves you.

Seek Feedback

Maybe you’re too close to the work to really see it for what it is. Sometimes, while slogging through sentences and paragraphs, we can’t see where the writing is really going. Objective opinions can give valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your writing.

If the feedback suggests that the piece has potential, it might be worth persevering. You can ask fellow writers to highlight specific areas for improvement. But… if multiple people identify fundamental flaws, it may be wise to consider moving on.

How Much Do You Have to Rebuild?

If your writing strays off course, how much work do you need to fix it? Some pieces require significant structural rework if the flaws are deeply ingrained in the core concept. The deeper the cracks, the more likely you may need to start again from scratch.

Yet, if you can envision a clear path to improving the work, it might be worth the time. Especially if you feel motivated to change the initial concept of the writing. This also works if you have plenty of time to devote to the project. 

Trust your instincts. Writers often have a sense when something is genuinely broken or beyond repair. Each writing project is unique. Pay attention to your gut when deciding to stick with a project or to cultivate fresh ground.  

Tim Kane

Monthly Mental Kitchen

Five minute reads on creativity, productivity and inspiration delivered monthly to your email inbox.

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

Leave a Reply