In the past, I've arrived at the point where lighting a match to my work in progress seemed like the logical next step. It's in that moment when my finger hovers over the delete button that I have to assess what's really going on.
Is it really trash?There is a learning curve after all. Some projects serve to make us better at our craft, but should NEVER be allowed to see the light of day. Like that Lumberjack/Werewolf meets Vampire/Actress romance I thought about writing. If the project is indeed crap, it's okay to give it up or use it solely as a writing exercise.
Have I spent so long looking at it that I'm sick of it?Every product has a “sell by” date. When it hits that point, it's time to pass it on to someone else. Beta readers, writerly friends, proofreaders, and editors are there for that purpose. Though it makes me nervous, there's nothing more amazing than putting my story into someone else's hands. (And while they're at it, I relax, go shopping, catch a movie, or grab a sandwich and a frosty beverage. May as well enjoy myself while they're busy, right?)
Do I need a break?
Instead of going all ninja assassin on my project, taking a breather and coming back to it with fresh eyes is a much better option. I keep a number of back-burner projects, amazing books, movies, and other entertainments on hand for this purpose. (Feel free to use my excuse for seeing movies, reading, and frequenting live theater: it's research, my friends!)
Has my story has gone off-course?
This can happen to the best of writers. For those who plot out entire novels, the journey may fall flat. And for those like me who follow characters and plotlines to see where they lead, sometimes we hit a dead end. At that point plotsers and pantsers alike can hop right back in to do some substantial rewriting, ask someone for help, or yes, scrap the whole thing. (Seriously though, don't throw away anything. Just set it aside. You never know when that scene, plot twist, or quirky character will find a home in another chapter or another book. For instance, I'm dying to find a place for my sassy Vampire/Actress. Just not in a Vampire/Werewolf love story.)
As writers, we have to remember that we have a story worth telling and we are capable of telling it.Yes, the SuckFest happens. Probably not to everyone and definitely not all the time, but it happens to me. When it does, I take a deep breath, figure out what's wrong, and move forward accordingly. Wallowing in my own suckiness never changes anything. At the end of the day, we all must remember that we may produce crap writing every now and then but we are NOT crap writers.