I had to make a tough decision today. As the plot began to thicken in my current novel-length project, I realized that there were humongous irrelevancies and discrepancies in the outline as I had originally planned it. I'd learned a great deal about the setting, characters, and story arc as I delved through the first third of the novel; but upon reaching that point, I realized that the last two thirds of the book would be weak and full of contrived scenes bent on reaching contrived goals. I was not looking forward to writing those pages.
So, I decided to take the success of those first 30,000 words, and run--before I committed any more time to a failed venture. With a much matured sense of place, persons, and plotlines in hand, I tonight completed a very tight outline of the story arc and the development of the main characters; tomorrow, I can begin the novel afresh.
Usually in these situations of mixed-middle-story feelings, I push on through--telling myself it will be better to just get to the end and be done with it. Sometimes that works, but in this case I'm glad I made the decision to take my existing work and stuff it into a folder of "preparatory materials." I learned a lot from those nonetheless aimless words, and now the story as a whole will be better for it. I'll still finish the book, after all: I'm just taking a slightly more scenic route.
And besides: the original manuscript didn't have hardly enough gunfights.