Buried under paperThis question was posed in a post over at the fabulous Nathan Bransford blog.

Bransford was asking readers when they decide it’s time to lay a current project to rest.

It’s an interesting question for writers. After all the effort- and blood, sweat, and tears-writers put into their work, is there a moment when you realize it might be better to simply call it a day and move on to something else?

The classic case is the first novel. Most writers plunge in to writing, with the classic “learning-by-doing” approach – writing that first novel. The problem is, after gaining experience, working with critique groups and honing in on the craft of writing, writers can often be quite critical about their first attempt and set it aside, dubbing it a practice novel.

Maybe we should think of those first attempts like our first high school boyfriends or girlfriends. A few exceptions may go on to turn those high school sweethearts into lifetime partners, but the vast majority of us tend to wonder – what was I thinking back then?

Life experiences changes us and turn us into different people, and the same thing happens to writers as we learn more about our chosen craft and begin reading others’ works through the eyes of a writer.

But now you know what you’re doing (at least most days, when fueled by enough coffee), you’re all excited about a new project, you steamroll along, piling up page after page. And then, crash.

The inspiration is gone.

What do you do, writers? Do you give up? Delete it from your computer’s hard drive for all eternity? Force yourself to keep going? Go for a jog/long bath/holiday before getting back to the work? Set it aside and work on something else, coming back to it when you’re ready?