Mike Monteiro (he of the magnificent beard and the NSFW Twitter page) contributed this list of 10 New Year’s resolutions for designers to .net magazine. But many of them can apply to other creative endeavours, especially the third:
The most common question I get from designers after pointing out what is wrong with their work is, “Can I save this?”
You are not Jesus and comps aren’t for saving. If something isn’t working, start over. Otherwise the goal you’re working towards is saving your work, not solving the problem.
Also, comps do not have feelings. You are not abandoning them. (You have no idea how much therapy that sentence took. Seriously.)
This urge comes from not wanting to feel like the time they’ve spent on that comp is wasted. The only possible way you can waste time is by being dishonest with yourself about its value. If you just spent an hour on a comp thinking it was working, then that was time spent honestly trying to solve a problem. The minute you realise the comp isn’t working and you start trying to “save it”, you’re no longer working towards good design. You’re working towards ego salvage. You gonna bill for that? That’s what I mean by dishonest time.
Substitute ‘drafts’ for ‘comps’ and X for ‘design’ and you’ve got a spot-on pep-talk for people in any creative discipline (especially writers).