A while back I doth spoke about starting a new novel from scratch. Well, that novel has been shelved (around page 18) and I've started on a whole different new novel (currently on page 31). This isn't the first time I've false-started on a novel, but it's actually happened a surprisingly few times. For twelve completed novels, I have about five or six false starts in my files, the longest being a good 150 pages of half-novel I wrote in college as part of an independent study (it was a sci-fi novel and the prof didn't really like sci-fi but gamely helped with the writing side of it). You'd expect to have MORE false starts than completed novels, I'd say, but I guess my 2:1 ratio just goes to show how stubborn I am once I have an idea/story in my brain and how willing I am to go down with the ship, if need be.
And, oh boy, have I sunk a few times...
But you can tell the difference between a workman-like idea for a novel and really being inspired pretty quickly, and right or wrong I can't bring myself to sit down and spend anymore of my life type-type-typing 70,000 words of anything if it doesn't fully engage me. This is why I've never ghost written anything, despite a few possibly lucrative opportunities to do so, and why I jumped ship on the new novel. Sitting down and pecking away on a keyboard is already hard enough without feeling, vaguely, that you might be wasting your goddamn time.
Author's Note: Feel free to also apply this advice to ever other facet of your life, from career to sporting teams to your love life. You might just thank me later, big boy!