There’s a principle of economics called “Sunk Costs.” The way I understand it is this: even if you put a bunch of time into something, if the end product isn’t going to be worthwhile, then ditch it. This can be painful because of all the time you’ve already invested, which will now essentially go to waste.
Unfortunately, knowing about sunk costs and the math behind it doesn’t make it any less painful.
Earlier this year, I was working on a space opera. I had mixed feelings about it. Writing was going slow in places, but I persevered. I finished it, and then… chucked the whole thing. 120,000 words. But it wasn’t good enough, I won’t publish something that isn’t good enough.
The flaws were too deep for mere editing to get them out, but I plan on coming back and rewriting the story someday. Just not today.
Well, I’m having to scrap something else right now. I’m 30,000 words into a novel, and I realized that I’m telling it the wrong way. I need to change the point of view, get deep into one of my character’s heads, get rid of a bunch of the cast, and then change the tone of the story. Once again, too radical for edits to fix. Just start from the bottom.
It’s painful, but I believe it to be the right call. Time will tell.