Why All Good Writers Abandon Their Projects

Sometimes, leaving something behind is in everyone’s best interest.


Are you the kind of person who feels guilty about every writing project you have ever abandoned?

If you are, I know exactly how you feel. I grieve over projects I have had to give up, even ones I didn’t particularly enjoy. Something you learn as a professional writer is that getting a lot of work done doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t good work.

Quantity and quality. Productivity vs. efficiency. It doesn’t matter how you define it: some people write to complete, and others write to create something worthwhile. There is a time and a place for each; just because a person writes a lot does not mean they are sloppy or that they don’t care. However, a writer destined for success is capable of both – which also means there will be moments they must leave a writing project incomplete, because quality is more important than quantity.

A good writer does complete projects – that’s what makes for a successful process. But a good writer also knows when it’s time to abandon a project. It’s no longer in their best interest, or the pay doesn’t match their level of expertise. They’re losing valuable time on more important things. Prioritizing often means things get cut. It’s not laziness; it’s strategic.

There’s a big difference between a writer who gives up and refuses to forgive themselves, and a writer who makes the decision to set aside one or two projects for the benefit of another. Saying “I can’t do this because I can’t give it my all” is not a show of weakness. It’s a display of your dedication not just to getting work done, but writing well. You don’t write because you are a writer. You write because you genuinely care about writing. If you already know the difference, you’re well on your way to building a successful career as a writer. I can guarantee it.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

2 thoughts on “Why All Good Writers Abandon Their Projects

  1. And to add to your comments, a good writer must be highly attuned to their own mental states. We need to be aware what moods are conducive to different types of productivity. Then we must help ourselves enter the moods that are most beneficial for a given project, if possible.

    That’s why, as you wrote about, having a schedule is so important.

    1. That’s a great point. :) I think a very important part of creative freedom is emotional intelligence – which isn’t just awareness of others’ emotions but your mental and emotional states as well.

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