When to Pull the Plug

Ever started something, invested a ton of time into it, and then at some point it seems like you hit a wall?  It’s hard to figure out when to pull the plug.  You’ve spent so much time on it (whatever that IT is) that you feel like you’ve wasted it all if you quit.  But, going forward is just wasting more.  Grrrr.  What to do?

It’s a tough decision, friends.  And perhaps you feel foolish for spending as much time as you did on it, but you were hopeful, right?  Nothing wrong with that.  And perhaps, the next time, you’ll figure it out sooner.  We’re ever hopeful, right?

My son and I are going thru this together right now.  He and his girlfriend are/may be breaking up.  And the poor guy feels like all the love/time/money he spent on her is now wasted.  I just spent over a year on a manuscript that I am shelving.  And I feel like all the love/time/effort has been wasted.  But wait… what if IT isn’t a waste?  What if it’s just all part of the process?  What if it’s one more step in the right direction?

My son may be completely heartbroken, but IT wasn’t a waste because he learned a lot during their several years together.  He learned how to love another person, how to take on responsibility, how to not be selfish.  He grew up and matured as a man.  And, all of these experiences including the heartbreak have shaped him into a person that is better prepared for his next relationship.

I may be frustrated, but IT wasn’t a waste because I learned a lot about my craft, that I can do editing and rewriting, that I can finish a story, that I can take criticism and rejection positively, that I am fully committed to this career.  I’ve grown as  a writer and my next story will be even better, and I will continue to grow so that I am prepared when I finally get published.

You’ll figure it out too – just remember to take all the good out of IT that you can find.  Learn, grow, repeat!


Filed under Life thoughts, Writing in general

19 responses to “When to Pull the Plug

  1. Diane

    Hi Clancy,
    That’s a great insight. Thanks for reminding me to keep my heart open and to continue enjoying the journey. =)

  2. Sometimes it’s just “Groundhog Day,” but even when it feels like the treadmill’s wearing out, I believe nothing’s in vain. Crap happens and people come in and out of our lives for a reason. Everything leaves an imprint on us. Sorry about your son. Broken hearts are the slowest organs to mend. Take the positive from the relationship and learn from the negative. I hate that you’re shelving you manuscript. Maybe new inspiration will spark sometime to resurrect it, or use your favorite parts in the stories yet to come. Kind of like “manuscript organ donation.” Don’t give up. Ever. The next big thing is just around the corner.

    • Thanks Diane and Joelene. I agree… it’s all in your perspective. And I am sad to give up on the one story, but I am already working on the next one and happy to be doing so. It is what it is.

  3. Sandy Rowland


    Well said. Nothing is ever lost and the effort you put into the last year was worth it.
    Hang in and focus on the future.

  4. Excellent message, Clancy. We can probably all look back on our experiences and see that, while sometimes painful, these things had to happen so we could find our way to this place and time.

    I’ve told my nieces when it comes to heartbreak (but can apply to most things) that they’ll know its the right time to walk away when they can do so knowing they’ve given it their all. When they’ve done that they can “pull the plug” because it will be the only decision that feels right (not painless).

  5. Calisa Rhose

    That’s a great question and such an insightful way to analyze it.
    On the other hand young love is tough and the young aren’t always capable of looking at a broken heart with objective reason. For that he’s lucky to have you there for him.

    To your yr or lost work- you are so much stronger for the lesson and a wonderful writer. It will come back to reward you!

  6. Clarissa Southwick

    I think this is one of the hardest things we must do as writers, knowing when to let go. Wonderful blog. Thanks for posting it 🙂

  7. Michelle

    Very interesting thought. At this point, I have days I want to pull the plug, but then I keep telling myself that if nothing else, I’m learning the process. 🙂

    And time spent loving someone is never wasted. I’m sure he learned a lot about himself too. It is hard though as the song says. My heart goes out to him.

  8. Cheri LaClaire

    Well said! As someone once quoted to me: Peace on your journey.

  9. No writing is wasteful. If you’re going to sell your fourth novel, you still have to write the first three, right?

  10. Oh Clancy, what a wonderful post and so true! I find myself of late looking at all my WIP an wondering ‘where the heck is this going?’ But most importantly, do I want to continue. Giving up is like giving up on myself.

    Even if what I write never comes to fruition, it is at least worth trying then always wondering ‘what if?’ I am glad that you saw your project through.

    And who knows, old loves do come around again. The flames can re-kindle and new things can grow. You might be taking that story down off the shelf and re-working it into something completely new.

    That same concept applies to relationships too. You never know. 😉
    Good luck to both of you!

  11. Thanks all… my first post on this blog and I appreciate all the kind comments. My son will appreciate them as well. Ah, l’mour.

  12. I agree. Although I never seem to know when to pull the plug. Stubborn enough to wrestle my MS to the ground and sit on it only to realize that I should have stopped 200 pages ago. But as long as you’re learning and growing with every word you are making progress.
    We’ll all keep learning together 🙂

  13. You make a good point — it hurts to walk away, but we take something valuable with us. You may find yourself using bits and pieces of your novel in future writing.
    Sandy B

  14. Martha Ferris

    The End always leads to new beginnings –
    For your son: Like the song says, Thank God for unasnwered prayers. I’ve had thirty years with a wonderful man because of heartbreaks. If they hadn’t been, I would have missed him.

    As for writing – I’ve written eight books and tossed the first five. Now have an agent and shopping mansucript seven. As for tossing . . . well . . . manuscript six is part of a sequel attached to seven so . . .

    Best of new starts to you both!

  15. Hey! You were crazy insightful… what an amazing way of looking at things. No matter what, every effort is a way to grow smarter and stronger.

    Great blog!

  16. Donnae

    But…as one of those in the know about your new project…I’m really excited to see what happens next.

  17. Sheereen

    My son is going through the same thing. After three years of being with the same girl. It is hard watching a child suffer.
    As for a MS. Everything is a learning process, like you pointed out. I think anyone who has been writing for any time has gone through this, but it’s nice to know were all sailing in the same boat. 🙂

  18. Pingback: Writing Is Like Racing | clancymetzger

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