I've spent two days working on this post.
It probably won't read as if it's something that should have taken so long. Scratch that - it definitely wont' read as if it's something that should have taken so long.
See, I kept going in fits and starts. After I deleted the first four paragraphs for the third time, I realized I had a real problem. The post simply was not working.
I had a good idea for a column topic: How it's important to build relationships before you need them. My problem was that I didn't have all that much to say beyond that. Network. Build relationships. Help people when you can - not because they can do something for you.
I had all sorts of fancy anecdotes and different ways of saying the same thing. But as I started to write them, I realized that was just going to be a waste of your time. I wouldn't read a post like that. Why would I expect anyone else to?
That's when I realized the post wasn't worth writing. Not for me, anyway.
So 10 minutes ago, I deleted everything, including the image associated with the post, and started over.
It's important to know when to let go. Don't waste your time trying to push a square peg into a round hole. Don't waste your time making silk out of sow's ears. Don't waste your time.
Not everything you try is going to work. Sometimes you do want -- or need -- to keep trying different ways to do the same thing. But you know when that's necessary. The times when it doesn't matter, well, you know that, too. The topic wasn't one assigned by an editor. No one was expecting me to write that post. All the pressure to do it was from myself.
That goes for anything you're working on, though. When you're trying a new business strategy, experimenting with a different social media channel, or testing out a new software platform -- if you keep trying and trying and trying and you just can't get out of the starting gate, maybe it's time to let go.
Don't be afraid to admit you were wrong.
The hardest part of letting go of something that's failing is that you have to admit you're wrong. It may be harder to admit it to ourselves than anyone else. I was so determined to write this post that I spent three hours staring at the computer screen, deleting more than I wrote and doing just about anything else I could rather than just write.
Try to figure out why what you're doing isn't working.
I had to step back for a minute and ask myself why the post wasn't working. In this case, it was really simple. I didn't have that much to say about it. Not at the moment, at least, and not in the way I was writing about it. It's hard to write a blog post when you don't have much to say on the topic.
Find another way, and use what you can from what wasn't working.
I had to write a post this weekend. So what was it going to be about? At first, I had a lot of trouble making that decision. Nothing really moved me. If I couldn't figure out something else to write, well, I was going to have to push ahead with a post that was probably going to be written poorly and I wouldn't really expect anyone to read. And I was going to have to spend probably hours more to get it done.
Whammo! That's when I realized I was going to write about this process. The process of recognizing when what you're doing doesn't work.