I've seen it mentioned in software development the concept of Fail Early, Fail Often. Using failure as a learning process is important to get better at any craft. In my writing, I have a habit of beating on story for a while, hoping to get them to the point their presentable. I wonder if I spend to much time working on stories I don't think are working when I could start something fresh. When is it a good time to start over with a new idea, or at least do major rewrite on an existing project? Is it better to stick with the current story and completely exhaust my patience and ideas for it before moving on to something new? Is sticking with an existing project and doing a major rewrite better then starting something new?

When I have finally put something aside since because it seems to be going towards a dead end, I never go back to it. Do some people later revisit their abandoned projects and bring them to completion?

2 Answers 2


If you write a book (or whatever) you have to rewrite it several times. Your first draft is shit! Period! There are some jewels buried in this shit and you need a shovel to dig through to them.

It is a good idea, to wait some time after you "finished" a project before revisiting it again. Then you have a clear mind and some distance. You need that to rewrite/edit/tear apart what you have written.

But you should finish a project. If you haven't finished one, you cannot tell when to stop a project and when to go through to the end against all inner forces (laziness mostly) which want to keep you away from what you really want to do.


This is one of those things where there are no easy answers but there's always advice you can use as a guideline.

For me, if a story isn't working, or I'm finding myself dreading working on it every time I sit down, I'll but it aside for a bit. That can be as short as a week or so (sometimes writing something else can help clear the cobwebs) but sometimes it can be longer. Usually though if a story isn't working I'll at least step back and look at it, try to understand why I'm feeling frustrated by working on it. Though that has lead to large rewrites in the past.

As an aside, I've found that putting a finished story aside for a time helps with the editing processes, letting you look at it with fresh eyes.

I would also recommend never fully giving up on a story, even if you put it aside because you just couldn't finish it. After three or four years of doing other writing you might be able to look back on an idea and see what needs to be done to fix it. I once had a story take seven years and three false starts before I found the right way to tell it, so don't give up.

One of the rules of being an author, never thrown anything out, just file it away for later.

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