Spiking A Column After Wasting Too Much Time on It

Being an independent journalist is a double-edged sword when it comes to being my own editor. There is the freedom to write stories without an editor assigning me to clickbait, but there the lack of guidance that an editor can provide when my desire to cover an issue becomes a rabbit hole leading to nowhere.

I went down a rabbit hole this weekend trying to write on a emotional topic. I planned to write a piece analyzing the issue and some of the interesting points of law related to the issue.

According to my logs, I spent 13 hours writing and editing – that doesn’t include the amount of time I thought about it and discussed it with others.

I probably should’ve stopped Friday evening when I started to rewrite the piece with a particular focus on keeping myself out of controversy. Over the weekend, I tried to fine-tune the language to ensure people wouldn’t misread the context of the piece.

At some point Saturday, I crossed over into the sunk cost fallacy. I’d spent so much time on the column that I couldn’t step away.

Monday, I tried to find a way, anyway, to make it work.

Eventually, I gave up on Tuesday. I discussed the column with a very reasoned friend, and finally accepted the inevitable – this column wasn’t going to work.

With that, I put the draft into my personal archives and looked back at wasted hours and thought “sometimes its good to have an editor” then reminded myself that here was an opportunity to remind myself of the importance of knowing when to walk away from a column early in the process.