From Brilliantsburg to Shitetown: What to do when copy just doesn’t come together

I quit.

And I know they say that quitters never prosper. But I’m actually okay with it.

I just spent the past three hours writing and re-writing and re-writing some more, only to realize that the blog post I was working on was, to steal a phrase from my British boyfriend, utter shite.

At first, I thought it would be brill. It involved a great anecdote about runny egg yolks, leading into practical tips for capturing creative inspiration the moment it strikes.

But with every draft, it moved further from Brilliantsburg and closer to Shitetown.

…Until it eventually got cozy, dropped a 20% down payment on a condo, and opened its doors to the Shitetownian Welcoming Committee.

And you know what? That’s okay.

I remember back in college Econ class learning the principle of sunk costs. Sitting in that massive lecture hall, with 300 of us scrambling to take notes and squinting at the tiny text from the overhead projector, I was totally taken with the idea.

The concept is simple: evaluate every idea on its own volition, today, ignoring what you’ve invested in the past.

Imagine you paid $500 for a pair of Lady Gaga tickets on Saturday night. You like Lady Gaga but you’re not like, a massive little monster.

On Saturday afternoon, your friend Fun Bobby invites you over for an impromptu games night.

Fun Bobby is the BEST. He throws the best parties and knows the best people. And games night sounds like no exception.

He’s grilling up Mexican street corn, your favorite food ever. And serving spicy margaritas, also your favorite. And playing old school board games, which, actually, you’re kinda whatever about. (Just kidding. They’re your favorite, too.)

Basically, Fun Bobby’s is the night of your dreams.

Do you go to the Lady Gaga concert? Or head to Fun Bobby’s?

If you’re like most people, you’d probably opt for the Gaga show. You paid $500 for those tickets. man! You have to get your money’s worth, right?

Economists would say otherwise.

At this point, the amount you paid for the Gaga tickets is a sunk cost. You won’t get it back no matter what you do.

Whether you go to the concert, whether you go to Fun Bobby’s, or whether you opt for introverting at home alone, you’re still down 500 buckaroonies. Like Ben Affleck’s psycho wife, that $500 is gone, girl. So you may as well ignore it.

What matters now is simply which Saturday night activity provides the biggest return (in terms of fun and personal enjoyment). That’s the activity you should pursue.

In desperately trying to salvage my blog post, there came a point where I recognized the hours spent on it were a sunk cost.

The world just isn’t ready for egg-yolk-themed copywriting metaphors yet, I guess. Because there was no way that thing was coming together the way I wanted it to.

I could have done my best to polish up the turd and put it out anyway.


I could open up a new Google doc and start writing about how much it sucks when you waste three hours on a shite blog post. 😉

No, but seriously, I want to remind you that sometimes, it’s just not meant to be. And it’s okay to acknowledge that.

It can get dangerous in business — and in life — when you continue pursuing something only because you’ve invested in it.

Whether it’s a new product…

Or a social media platform…

Or even a relationship…

If it’s not working, it’s okay to call it quits.
It’s okay to admit that you want to do something different. And it’s okay to ignore any sunk costs associated with it.

It’s important to look at each opportunity with fresh eyes and pursue only the ones that make the most sense, right now, today.

So let me ask you:

Is there anything in your business that you’re doing only because you’ve invested a lot into it?

Any programs / services / clients / projects / strategies that, when you’re really honest, just aren’t working but you’re still pursuing them?

What would happen if you pulled the plug?

Would your life / biz be better for it?

What could fill that space instead?

One of my mantras right now is “saying ‘yes’ to something means saying ‘no’ to something else.” And on the flipside, saying “no” to something means saying “yes” to something else.

Trashing my first blog gave this one space to bloom. And that’s a great thing, big-picture.

If there’s anything you’re currently saying “yes” to when you should be saying “no,” follow economists’ lead.

Don’t be afraid to let go of that condo in Shitetown. They have better Mexican street corn in Brilliantsburg, anyway.

join the convo


How do you choose which opportunities to pursue in your biz?

What’s your process when an idea’s just not working the way you want it to?

And what’s your process when a piece of copy just doesn’t work? Do you keep working and try to lure it back to Brilliantsburg? Or do you abandon it in Shitetown?

delve deeper


The Weird Little Word Destroying the Soul of Your Copy

The Trick to Find Six Extra Hours a Week to Create Blog Content

Setting Biz Goals? Read This.


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