When To Abandon A Writing Project

How do you know when a project isn't working?
When a short story is short of an exciting lead character or a brilliant ending, or a gripping beginning, or all three?
Or when writing a novel turns out to be not quite so novel as you imagined it when you first thought of the idea?

We've all got projects lying abandoned in drawers like shopping cart left in multi-storey car parks. We know they won't be there forever, but right now we can't get them in the place they ought to be. Maybe we'll pillage the best bits and get the hell out of there, feeling a little guilty about leaving it abandoned.

But how long do you flog the dead horse before you realise it will neigh no more?

I think it's all down to how much time you've invested in the project or, to use poker parlance, how pot committed you are. If you've planned for months and written a whole draft or two, giving up that baby there and then isn't going to be easy. You're going to try and make it work, no matter what. You may be tempted to get the script out there for others to feed back on. Maybe it's not as bad as you think? It usually is.

For me, I seldom get as far as writing a draft. I'll spend ages planning it out, hoping a spark might save it from the oblivion of unfinished-dom. Yearning for a plot twist to turn it on its head and save it from the dreaded Drawer Of The Poor.

If nothing happens for a month, I'll move onto something else. But there's no escaping that feeling of failure, especially every time I go shopping and see those abandoned carts...

Why getting a 1 star book review could be worse.

Yes, a couple of my books have had a 1-star review recently. They probably would have got zero stars had that option been available.

But, do you know what? I prefer getting the lowest possible rating than a 2 or 3 out of 5. And that's not just me trying to look on the bright side.

Two or three stars is mediocrity. It's so-so. It's this book made no discernible impact on my life. It's the white lines on the road. It's plain Rich Tea biscuits. Bland. Vanilla. Insipid.

At least if you get a 1 or zero, you know you've royally pissed off someone, or disgusted them. or disappointed them to such an extent they want to bury your book in an allotment, or set it on fire, or whatever the digital equivalent of that is.

One is a snarl. Two or three is a shrug of the shoulders.

So if your book gets a review with the lowest rating possible, look on it positively. Regard it as preferable to a 2 or 3, but obviously not as good as a 4 or 5.

Then go off and write something that everyone just has to give 5 out of 5.

Happy new year. Even to my 1-star reviewers, without whom this post would not have been possible!