“Never talk about what you are going to do until after you have written it,” said Mario Puzo.
Oops. I’m not only talking about my latest book idea, I’ve actually written about it on my website — The Adventurous Writer. But, the good news is John Steinbeck talked about his book ideas before they were written, too! Here’s a few quips from published authors about talking about writing – plus some tips. For more in-depth info on getting your ideas published, click on Putting Your Passion Into Print: Get Your Book Published Successfully! by Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry.
Should You Talk About Your Article or Book Ideas?
The quip: “I don’t like to talk about works-in-progress because if I do then it’s on TV 10 weeks later, and it takes me two to three years to write a novel because I do so much rewriting.” – Sidney Sheldon
- The tip: Okay, we may be successful writers, but most of us aren’t in Sheldon’s league! Even so, many writers fear the possibility that their book or article ideas will show up in a magazine, another writer’s blog, or a book. I believe the chances that someone deliberately steals ideas are slim (plus, you can’t legally fight it because ideas can’t be copyrighted). I also believe in a cosmic karma/common sense flow that leads people to similar ideas at the same time. That is, leads for ideas are floating around in the news, on Twitter, etc – our world is so small, writers are bound to come up with the same ideas at the same time. (To figure out if your idea is valuable, read Tips for Recognizing Great Article Ideas)
The quip: “You lose it if you talk about it.” – Ernest Hemingway
- The tip: If you talk about your ideas, be selective. Don’t spread your ideas around writers’ forums or on Twitter (oops, I goofed again). Rather, share your ideas with inspiring fellow writers, your writing group, or people you trust. Talking your way through problems with finding sources for articles or plot dilemmas for novels is a great way to find solutions! But, I encourage you to pull a “Hemingway”, and do what works for you.
The quip: “I don’t care to talk about a novel I’m doing because if I communicate the magic spell, even in an abbreviated form, it loses its force for me. Once you have talked, the act of communication has been made.” – Angus Wilson.
- The tip: Ah, but Angus, you haven’t communicated your idea to everyone! Telling your blog readers or writing group or family about your plans can create energy, accountability, and determination. And some writing projects – such as my “published authors’ blunders” idea – require the participation of others.
The quip: “I really talk too much about my work and to anyone who will listen. If I would limit my talk to inventions and keep my big mouth shut about work, there would probably be a good deal more work done.” – John Steinbeck.
- The tip: Talking (or blogging) about your book or article ideas instead of taking action is a trap writers could easily fall into – and it could stall your journey towards publication! If you’re a talker, limit the time you spend discussing your ideas. Make sure you spend more time writing/researching/outlining/interviewing than talking.
The truth is, I’m a little jumpy about sharing my “published authors’ blunders” book idea. Wendy Burt-Thomas, author of The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters was kind enough to share my request for published writers on Ask Wendy – The Query Queen…and I wonder if going public like this is wise.
But, one never knows what will work until one tries, right?
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PS: If you put your book or article ideas in your blog, you can easily prove they were yours first. It’s a digital version of sending them to yourself, like writers did in the days of yore. I’m not sure if your proof will help, other than to reassure yourself that you can create strong, publishable ideas!
PPS: I’m weary of writers being so fearful about sharing their ideas. Some new writers are afraid to send their article ideas to magazine editors, for fear the idea will be stolen and assigned to a staff writer. Ideas are so easy to come by…it’s the follow through that counts. So, I guess I’m not too worried about my “published authors’ blunder” idea being stolen, because I am following through. If I can’t do it, then by all means – someone else go ahead! (But give me a year, okay? 🙂 )
Fellow scribes, what do you think about talking about your book or article ideas before you write them? Have you lost motivation – or seen your ideas published elsewhere – because you shared?