Last week I was invited to contribute to an anthology. While discussing the theme of the anthology, a friend suggested a setting that I am pretty sure no other contributor will use. I spent a few hours researching the setting, learning enough that I knew it should work.
Yesterday morning I sat down to write. Eight to ten hours later, having put only 1,300 words on the page, and having written and discarded several thousand more, I quit.
No matter how many ways I approached it, I couldn't find a story that fit the setting. All I had was the connective tissue--background bits and pieces that I could weave into a story, if I had a story.
Frustrated, I closed the file, shoved all my research material aside, and took a break from the computer.
When I finally returned, I opened a new file and began typing. Within an hour I had the first 800 words of a new story. Contained within those 800 words are a hook, the genesis of a plot, and three viable characters. The setting's a little sketchy, but if everything else works, I can flesh out the setting as I go.
Lesson learned: Sometimes quitting is more productive than actually writing.