Like, for example, the mistake of not keeping the door closed while fleshing out a new story idea or writing a rough draft. That’s what Stephen King suggests in his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft:
Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.
I truly, absolutely, 100% agree with this advice because sharing a book idea or rough draft before it’s fully fleshed out puts you at risk for having that forward momentum shot down in flames. Even the most innocent comment such as, “Oh that’s nice, I saw a movie last month that sounds just like it,” can rob your excitement and cloud your head with doubt.
So. As someone who’s been writing since 1998, I know better than to share my ideas too early, right?
The last time happened near the end of May, two days before I was supposed to start the May Midgrade Madness challenge. I was going to write something different from my usual stuff, something darker and deeper, pulling memories from a childhood tragedy that I had witnessed. Although the idea scared me to death, I was really excited about the story. So excited that I *insert forehead smack* shared it with a family member who shall remain unnamed.
“Oh no, don’t write that book! I hate reading books like that!”
*shoulders slumped, knife jammed in heart, brilliant idea bubble popped like a rotten back pimple.*
Needless to say, I did not write this story for May Midgrade Madness. I didn’t even try. That seed of doubt–the one that’s always there regardless of whether I share my idea or not–had tripled in size, making me wonder if she was right, if the book would only be a waste of time and if I should concentrate my efforts on manuscripts more in-keeping with my style instead.
Now. I’m an adult. I hold myself accountable for all my actions and had I really wanted to, I could have sucked it up, put on some big girl britches, and wrote the heck out of that bad boy.
But I didn’t. It was easier to chicken out, or as Steven Pressfield talks about in The War of Art, to let resistance win. And to be honest, I still feel pretty crappy about it because …
So. Door closed, door closed, door closed.
And I am going to write that story.
Cross posted on As The Eraser Burns.