Andrew asked Michael A. Arnzen:

Is it ever worth it to force a story when it's gone off track or should you cut your losses and start again?

Michael A. Arnzen I feel like a hypocrite saying this -- because I've abandoned novels halfway through them, having "cut my losses" -- but I feel one should take a "never say die!" attitude to a project. Finish it, and if it doesn't sell, so be it. You will learn more from reaching the end of a journey than never taking the full trip.

However, I know the frustration. I think if the story has really gone off off the rails and rattled your confidence in what you're pursuing, then you should set the work aside for awhile and do something different and new to "clear the slate" before you start over again -- from a new novel to a short story or a poem. Anything to reset the creative engines. Otherwise, you'll begin to feel that frustration akin to struggling to untie a tight knot that just can't be opened up, fraying the ends of the rope but getting nowhere. Projects I've dropped and return to -- as a reader rather than a writer -- sometimes reveal themselves to be works of garbage that I laugh at in that "what was I thinking?" sort of way -- or otherwise works of genius in utero -- and the solutions begin to reveal themselves as I read and take notes about how to revise.

Another trick is to throw a wrench into the works and try to make it worse... this sometimes can lead to original ideas and magic solutions, too. Try my creative triggers at or my ebook, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side for some "spurs" if you haven't seen them yet. Best wishes, Andrew! You're not alone! -- Mike Arnzen

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