This isn't the first time I've talked about this sort of thing, and it won't be the last.
As much as I don't like blanket statements, I think it's safe to say that we writers get attached to the things we're working on. (Unless we're just doing it for the money, in which case we're attached to getting paid, and there's nothing wrong with that.) That attachment can come in many forms; for me, it's always been the characters and who they are together that gets me hooked. I've struggled more with finding stories for characters to exist in than any other part of the writing process. It's far too easy to love these people who show up in my head and get fixated on telling their story above everything else.
Which too often makes it very difficult to recognize when their story just isn't working.
I've talked here about a plot-in-progress that was incredibly personal, something that could turn out to be deeper and darker than anything I've worked on before. I devoted a lot of time (and a few off-kilter tweets) to working on this. The plotting document for it is seventeen pages long, including cut text. It's one of those things that came pouring out of my head in the early planning stages, complete with two characters showing up and saying no, the story was about them.
It's the sort of thing I hope for as a plotter, which is why it crushed me when everything started to fall apart. The book was a way for me to tell the kind of tale I've wanted to tell for a long time - a school story. It started off being about the teachers, but it was two students who took it over. I spent a great deal of time trying to bend it into shape, making myself more and more miserable with every attempt.
I should have known when I sat down to write and could hardly make myself open up the document that it was time to set the story aside. But I was so determined to get it right. I wanted it so much. But it was driving me mad.
It took spending most of a therapy session talking about the trouble I was having with that plot to get me to realize just how badly it was affecting me. I hadn't felt genuinely depressed for weeks, but that plot brought me right the hell down. So that night, I took one last look through it, and accepted that it was time to let it go. It wasn't easy, but when something I'm plotting has me so torn up that I can't even read it, I'm defeating my own purpose by trying to make it work. Call me crazy, but I think it's hard to be a writer when your own work keeps you from writing.
Things have been much better since then. I have two plots I'm working on; one is revealing new depths to me as I delve into how its magic works and how that would affect the people living in that world, while the other is just plain insane and will likely have people accusing me of being on drugs if anyone ever reads it. Both of them are shaping up to be the sort of stories they're meant to be, and I'm figuring them out a little at a time.
It's slow going sometimes, but I'll take slow going over the full stop.