Not Telling.

I share my writing ideas less and less these days. Not that I don’t want people to know what I’m writing. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy fleshing out ideas by talking about them out loud, outside of my own brain. (Which can be an odd place, believe me.) It’s that I’ve found a certain relief in keeping concepts to myself for longer periods of time-a relief that leads to greater enjoyment of the writing, and hence to some degree greater productivity.

There’s that somewhat vile but nonetheless appropriate old analogy about cockroaches. You turn on the lights in the room and they scatter and hide; you can’t see them anymore. While I’d strongly prefer that it wasn’t cockroaches, as the idea of a room full of them, in the dark makes me skin crawl. Plus few people want cockroaches around. Still, in this case, ideas, like cockroaches, can skitter away, or be greatly diluted the more light you shine on them/the more people you talk to about them.

In other words, I’ve learned over the last few years that talking about whatever my next project is too early in the process can make it seem less appealing, or make me less confident in pursuing same.

I think on some sub-conscious level artists seek the approval of their ideas by way of thoughts from those they like or trust. The problem is, if we share what our plans are with too many people too early, we get responses to the concept, and not the execution. Such responses therefore are just as likely, if not more likely, to convince us that we’re moving in the wrong direction, when in fact we have access in our imaginations to possibilities that the work will bring to life much later in the process.

Find one or two people whose taste matches yours, whom you trust, and share the possibilities with them. That way if they like it, you get encouragement to pursue it from a more objective source. And if they think it sounds problematic, it’s the thoughts of just one person, which makes it easier to deal with.

That’s what I am doing right now. I’ve written down the board concepts and structure of a future novel, about which I have told thus far, nobody, not even family. I have one or two writer friends I might tell, before I start any writing on it. (Which probably won’t happen for months.) But beyond that, mum is the word, though I really do want to know what people think.

Much like a good story, I’ll just have to wait to find out.

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