I’ve spent enough time studying the grooves of my ceiling to know that every creative person, writers included, needs to take risks and risk the repercussions afterwards. Just like you may have a flood of ideas and are eager to set each one free, you may spend nights like me staring at the ceiling bemoaning over your impulsivity for not being more discriminating.
That comes with the territory.
In the five years that I’ve spent freelancing, I’ve banged my head over my keyboard (figuratively) enough times to put Don Music to shame. (If you need a refresher, he’s the crazy piano guy on Sesame Street.)
But I know it’s just another part of the process.
In fact, I’m quite sure that the more successful you are, the more failures you’ve collected over time. And while that’s not always enough to get writers to ever look forward to rejection letters, it’s hopefully enough to make you see the normality in the ups and downs of your creativity.
It’s all about falling off that horse and moseying back up again.
In a beautiful CNN article, “The success of failure: Pulitzer winner’s surprising road to the top,” writer Todd Leopold demonstrates just how far you might have to go to be successful. In particular, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan sometimes admits to going through 50-60 drafts. And it’s not just about being persistent that makes you successful. Taking a line from Kenny Rogers, it’s also knowing when to “fold ’em.”
Some writers spend years perfecting their work-in-progress having never had it published. Sometimes it takes hankering away. But other times it’s getting good at knowing when it’s time to move on.
It’s a gray area.
How do YOU know when it’s time to say goodbye to a project you’re working on or when it’s time to keep working at it?