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Gena_Skyler
10-25-2013, 11:31 PM
So, I have never finished a novel or anything, but I have this recurring problem and I'm wondering if I'm the only crazy person.

My issue is this: I have an idea and I'm gonna go with it. I get excited about it and I share it with someone and the idea kind of dies inside me.

I'm going to try to win NaNoWriMo this year and I have an idea for a book that I would really like to get down. I have had several people ask me what it's about and I have kept quiet, not wanting the idea to go bad again. Well a very good friend of mine asked me to share, and so, reluctantly, I did. After I was done explaining the premise to her she said NOTHING. Not one word. Didn't even bring up the subject again.

Now I'm having a hard time staying focused on the idea. I know I did it to myself, I should have kept the whole damn thing buried in the treasure chest at the back of my brain until it was ready to come out. But I didn't.

I'm going to try to push through, though. Hopefully it won't completely go away.

Does anyone else feel this possessive need to keep their ideas secret until they have the thing ready? Or is this something I just need to get over?

GS

Chris P
10-25-2013, 11:42 PM
I'm pretty closed-lipped about my WIPs except to a few (okay, one) people. I used to be this way out of fear of people knowing if I didn't finish the idea, but nowadays it's because I get tired of everyone telling me what I should write about. I like a good brainstorming session, but except for a few (okay, one, who's also a writer) people, they're more distracting than anything.

Are there critique groups near you? Maybe the input of other writers will inspire more than shut you down.

robjvargas
10-25-2013, 11:50 PM
Gena: It sounds like you're letting others' non-love for writing affect you.

Easier said than done, sometimes, but you just need to remember that they aren't you. They don't see what you see. But they wouldn't ask if they weren't excited for you. They mean well.

Concentrate on that vision, not what others want.

Another option is to find a NaNo writing buddy who will pass on that enthusiasm and/or reflect it back. We AW'ers have a whole forum over at NaNo. You should look us up (http://nanowrimo.org/forums/writing-groups-and-clubs/threads/120322), if you haven't already.

I'm very lucky in that my wife is excited about my writing, although she's not into the genres that inspire me. So she loves that I'm writing. And that helps.

You're doing something special and awesome. You're bringing characters and a story to life that wasn't there before. You're creating. Love that, and I think you'll find yourself where you need to be.

mccardey
10-25-2013, 11:56 PM
I tend not to think it's a great idea to talk about an unwritten WiP. For me, it's because the thoughts are still pretty inchoate, and forcing them into a talkable version before they're ready, damages them.

Some people benefit from writers groups, and the flow of energy they create - some people avoid them like the plague because that energy swamps the process. Don't feel bad if you belong to the second group, Gena. We had tee-shirts made...

dangerousbill
10-26-2013, 12:31 AM
My issue is this: I have an idea and I'm gonna go with it. I get excited about it and I share it with someone and the idea kind of dies inside me.


Many of us have the same problem. Talking too much about our ideas just lets the air right out of them. Keep them to yourself until they're down on paper. If possible, keep them to yourself until at least the first draft is done. I've gone and inadvertently killed two novels because I showed them to people too soon.

Other people's ideas, whether positive or negative, seem to interrupt the flow of imagination on a particular storyline. Whether that's true for everyone or not, it's certainly a problem with me.

BethS
10-26-2013, 12:38 AM
Does anyone else feel this possessive need to keep their ideas secret until they have the thing ready? Or is this something I just need to get over?



No, you don't need to get over it. You need to stop sharing your ideas. It bleeds energy and motivation from you every time you do it, which you've already figured out.

I'm the same way. I never discuss what's going to happen next in my WIP, with anyone. Ever. And for that same reason, I don't outline or write an advance synopsis, because that will kill the urge to write.

You're not abnormal. Guard your secrets. :)

Polenth
10-26-2013, 01:19 AM
A good way to avoid people hassiing is to have a really basic answer to give them. So rather than saying, "I'm not going to tell you," you say, "It's a murder mystery set in Paris." Or "It's an urban fantasy with pixies." Just a basic quick sentence. That's often all people really want to know anyway.

Siri Kirpal
10-26-2013, 03:35 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Perfectly okay to say, "My ideas die when I speak them, so I'll keep silent for now." (or similar) Perfectly okay to be you.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Russell Secord
10-26-2013, 04:01 AM
Finding an idea for a story is sorta like dating. You may only want to have a short-term relationship (i.e. write a short story), so you don't spend much time looking, you don't make a commitment, and you can overlook some faults.

If you intend to get married (i.e. write a novel), you have to raise your standards. You're going to spend a lot more time with this person. You look carefully at strengths and weaknesses. You want to have a strong emotional reaction. You want someone who will stay with you in the bad times as well as the good. You want this person to be like a part of you, not someone you share with other people.

What I'm trying to say is that, when the right idea comes along, you will know it. You won't be afraid to tell other people about it.

gingerwoman
10-26-2013, 04:12 AM
I read in a writing book once, that the more you talk about something you are going to write, the less likely you are to actually ever write it. Plus your friends and family will usually react in a blase fashion to your brilliant idea, or tell you it is ridiculous, so it's best not to mention it.
And OP since you have yet to ever finish a novel I think it is particularly important in your case that you simply do not share your next idea with anyone. Just write it and submit it, or self publish it whatever your plan is but don't mention it to anyone until it is time to promote it.

Gena_Skyler
10-26-2013, 04:20 AM
Thanks for the great advice everyone. I feel better knowing that I am not the only person who feels so passionate about keeping the idea close to the heart until I am ready to share it.


Don't feel bad if you belong to the second group, Gena. We had tee-shirts made...

Hahaha, I'll take a t-shirt!


You're doing something special and awesome. You're bringing characters and a story to life that wasn't there before. You're creating. Love that, and I think you'll find yourself where you need to be.

Thanks for that Rob. I'm glad I joined this forum.


What I'm trying to say is that, when the right idea comes along, you will know it. You won't be afraid to tell other people about it.

You are probably right, it's just hard for me to watch a person's reaction when I tell them about it. I begin to lose confidence in the story.

GS

Corey LeMoine
10-26-2013, 04:25 AM
The biggest problem that I have is this; I love writing because putting my thoughts down on paper is how I organize and focus my brain. Whenever I try to tell anyone about my ideas, I fail horribly and it all comes out a jumbled mess that alternates between boring and insane.

I realize that I'll have to overcome this at some point in order to pitch, and/or talk about my novels, but I'm much better at talking about things that I have already articulated.

All of that is to say, if keeping mum is what you need to actually get the but in the chair and write, then do it!

jjdebenedictis
10-26-2013, 06:34 AM
They've actually done studies that showed that people who talk about a project tend to accomplish less on that project, and feel more satisfied with having accomplished less. People who don't talk about it get more done.

The act of talking about it gives your brain some positive feedback that fools it into thinking that it's already accomplished something concrete. If you keep all your excitement inside, there's nowhere for your energy to go except into the project itself.

So it's not your imagination! Even before I read about that study, I had stopped talking about my writing ideas because I had noticed the effect. "Shut up and write" is my mantra now. Butt in chair, and get it on the page. If someone asks, I give them a one word answer. "Dragons!" "Zombies!" "Necromancers!" (Can you guess what genre I write in? :) )

Gena_Skyler
10-26-2013, 07:48 AM
Whenever I try to tell anyone about my ideas, I fail horribly and it all comes out a jumbled mess that alternates between boring and insane.


My voice goes monotone. I dislike it intensely. And I think it's because I don't have the ideas fully formed in my head when I'm telling someone about it. Ugh!

blacbird
10-26-2013, 09:20 AM
So, I have never finished a novel or anything,

You have identified the source of your problem. There's only one way to cure it.

caw

Sunflowerrei
10-26-2013, 09:26 AM
I used to have this problem. It was like I would blab about my idea, my characters, and whatever else and then I was satisfied with that and couldn't force myself to actually write it. I have less of that feeling now, so maybe you won't feel that way about a future idea.

I don't talk about my story ideas much in day-to-day life. I'll tell a few friends a couple of details and sometimes they help brainstorm, but otherwise, I save the sharing of the idea to my blog.

bearilou
10-26-2013, 03:32 PM
If someone asks, I give them a one word answer. "Dragons!" "Zombies!" "Necromancers!" (Can you guess what genre I write in? :) )

Usually, I make up something on the fly.

"Oh, what am I writing? I'm writing about a young woman who only sees unicorns behind her in the reflection of the mirror. When she turns around, she sees a devastated landscape of a post apocalyptic war of sentient machines. Sort of like Labryinth meets Terminator."

"Oh, I'm writing about an elite garden gnome assassination squad that has been activated by a black ops agent in the US government to assassinate the curator of the Largest Ball of Twine in the US which actually is a portal to a parallel universe where cthulhu horrors riding goats are real and are trying to get to our universe. Sort of Men in Black meets Mission Impossible."

Most people don't know if I'm serious or not, they get this frozen smile on their face, nod politely (and quickly), mumble something like 'sounds interesting, let me know when you publish' and then change the subject.

jeffo20
10-26-2013, 05:01 PM
I'm not big on sharing, either. I find a WiP is delicate, and talking too much about it seems to damage it somehow. It doesn't really make a lot of sense, but it doesn't have to, I suppose.

Layla Nahar
10-26-2013, 05:07 PM
I tell people I want to wait till it's finished before I talk about it, 'I don't want to jinx it.' I've found that almost everybody really understands that.

Cathy C
10-26-2013, 05:14 PM
Usually, I make up something on the fly.

"Oh, what am I writing? I'm writing about a young woman who only sees unicorns behind her in the reflection of the mirror. When she turns around, she sees a devastated landscape of a post apocalyptic war of sentient machines. Sort of like Labryinth meets Terminator."

"Oh, I'm writing about an elite garden gnome assassination squad that has been activated by a black ops agent in the US government to assassinate the curator of the Largest Ball of Twine in the US which actually is a portal to a parallel universe where cthulhu horrors riding goats are real and are trying to get to our universe. Sort of Men in Black meets Mission Impossible."

Most people don't know if I'm serious or not, they get this frozen smile on their face, nod politely (and quickly), mumble something like 'sounds interesting, let me know when you publish' and then change the subject.

:o Should I say out loud that both of those sound like really cool MG books??

One thing I'd mention to the OP is that you're probably an organic writer (also called a "pantser"). My co-author is one too, so I know how it works. Let me tell you now that you're going to struggle a bit with writing a synopsis for a story that's not already written. Since this is sort of a requirement for writing on proposal once you get your first sale, it could later become an issue. A few suggestions that helped her deal with the issue:

1. Don't try to get the story right when you talk about it (because eventually you're going to have to, even if it's to your agent or editor) or be very vague about the details. When you try to get the story RIGHT verbally, or in a synopsis, you've put your characters in a steel vault that you will struggle to write them out of. If you state openly that Bob goes to Paris as part of the plot, but your mind as you write wants him to go to Australia to follow the trail of the plot, it will bug the heck out of you--possibly so much that you trunk the novel. Instead, try saying: "Bob flies overseas to follow the trail." That leaves your world-traveling options wide open. :)

2. Don't get married to names of characters. In your head, Bob is Bob. But what if your agent or editor HATES that name, or likes Sam for reasons of marketing instead? Pantsers I've known have a very difficult time writing name changes because it removes the character's entire identity. At least, in your head, give your characters long names so you have options. Bob Smith's given name can become (not in the text, just in your head) "Robert Samuel James Smith". You then have options. Maybe some members of his family knew him as "Jimmy" as a kid (because his Dad was Bob) but he hated that and picked "Sam" when he was in school, but moved to a new city and became Bob when his father died. If it comes up, you can imagine the in-family fighting that happened at his birth. :roll: It's all about options when you're a pantser.

2. Own your pants! Simply tell people who ask that you can only tell them about the part already on the page because you honestly don't know where it's going next. Non-writers will accept that as part of the "magic" of the writing process. Your future plot twists are then safe. :)

3. Be outlandish. Like Berilou said above, if you get forced into a corner by someone that you simply can't escape from, DON'T talk about your actual WIP. Pick a plot bunny instead that can be trunked without fear. Just don't get so excited about the story you tell that you lose interest in the current one. Recognize that the one you just told will suffer the same fate of disinterest and non-ending. Let the plot bunny hide in his cage until needed and keep the gorgeous tiger that is your actual WIP safe from view.

Good luck!

ishtar'sgate
10-26-2013, 07:05 PM
A good way to avoid people hassiing is to have a really basic answer to give them. So rather than saying, "I'm not going to tell you," you say, "It's a murder mystery set in Paris." Or "It's an urban fantasy with pixies." Just a basic quick sentence. That's often all people really want to know anyway.

This. I want to give them something. If they want more I just smile and tell them they have to wait. They accept that far better then me hemming and hawing and making it obvious I don't want to say anything which ends up making them feel stupid for asking or annoyed with me for being secretive. Most people who ask me now have already read my first historical so they know it's another one. I simply say it's about the ancient Babylonians in the months before the Persian army invades. Don't be afraid to be vague. Most people aren't really looking for plot details, just an overall picture.

AshleyEpidemic
10-26-2013, 07:23 PM
I am going to be a bit of a buck in the trend , but there area select group of people I tell about my story once I've discovered a potential direction. In fact, I'm doing this for my secondary Nano project. I bounce things of these people one idea at a time. If they get excited, I try to explain more and it helps me figure out plot points. If they lose interest, I pull it a step back and approach from a different angle. The disinterest helps me gauge which aspects shouldn't get a lot of focus or need more work to be compelling.

bearilou
10-26-2013, 08:08 PM
If they lose interest, I pull it a step back and approach from a different angle. The disinterest helps me gauge which aspects shouldn't get a lot of focus or need more work to be compelling.

See, for me it's not about the other people losing interest.

It's about me letting the air out of the balloon. It's about releasing the creative pressure.

Along the same lines of how people who won't outline because they say once they outline it and know how it ends, the story has already been told and there's no need to write it.

When I describe my story, I'm telling it and then there's no need to write it. The story's told. It's been 'read' and it's done.

buz
10-26-2013, 08:13 PM
I don't want to talk to people in my life about my writing, so they don't know I do it, no one asks, and I don't have to tell anyone what my shit's about. ;) Easy peasssyyy

ironmikezero
10-26-2013, 11:36 PM
I'm generally not into sharing during the creative phase for a host of my own reasons. Unfortunately, that does not mean other people respect that.

There was one particularly persistent person who couldn't seem to stop pestering me whenever we happened to meet - always asking, "How's the book coming? What are you writing about now? Anybody I know in it?"

You know, one of those folks who can't seem to recognize boundaries - seemingly well-intentioned, but nonetheless intrusive, and far too personal.

On our last encounter, (and being admittedly somewhat exasperated with the recurring inquisitions), I admitted I was stumped with a new supporting character I was about to introduce, a minion of my antagonist... My comment was something to the effect that I needed inspiration for a believable yet slightly twisted unrepentant closet pedophile who was unsuspected in the community but was about to be exposed...

"Say, tell me a little about yourself..."

I never saw or heard from this person again.

jjdebenedictis
10-26-2013, 11:42 PM
A good way to avoid people hassiing is to have a really basic answer to give them. So rather than saying, "I'm not going to tell you," you say, "It's a murder mystery set in Paris." Or "It's an urban fantasy with pixies." Just a basic quick sentence. That's often all people really want to know anyway.My husband is a physicist, and he hates talking about his work simply because he's met too many physicists who won't shut up about physics. (At a party, glass of wine in hand? Sure, let's talk about entangled states ad infinitum...)

But people outside the field genuinely are curious about what he does, and so he (gently) puts them off using exactly your technique.

"Ooh, you study physics? What do you work on?"
"Oh, just gravity."
"What, like, outer space stuff?"
"Yeah, quantum gravity. It's mainly a bunch of math."

Of course, he could jabber on about black holes, wormholes, and gravastars, and his audience would probably appreciate that up to a point--but when he's interacting with people, he wants to do social, human stuff, not discuss intellectual abstractions. He separates his work and his play pretty ruthlessly.

whimsical rabbit
10-27-2013, 11:55 PM
From what I undestand, you share, widely and enthusiastically, and once you do, you feel each one of the people you share with take a little something out of it, until there's nothing left.

Don't share. Not as widely at least. Because people's reactions vary, especially non-writers' ones, and they may dishearten you. People may try to impose their own ideas on yours, they may yawn, change the subject too quickly, not pay enough attention during or after your narration- anything. And you can't blame them either, because only fellow writer or book fiends will follow you as closely as you wish.

Bottom line? Find someone you trust and talk your ideas through with them. The only person that ever gets to hear about my ideas is my husband- a screenwriter. He always listens attentively and even when he bashes some of my ideas, he usually sends me towards the right direction.

Then write. And write, and write some more, and finish something. Are you blogging? Start blogging. Anonymous comments may have a positive effect on you, as they will be diverse, probably true and focused on your writing, not their relationship with you.

Start writing.

jaksen
10-28-2013, 04:23 AM
If this is what is keeping you from writing, or finishing a project, then DON'T TELL ANYONE.

Seriously. Keep it to yourself. I usually don't tell anyone anything until I am completely done, finished, have written the last word.

Then I show it to one person. One person. After (if) it's published anyone can read it - or not. At that point I'm too busy on the next thing to worry about it.

Gena_Skyler
10-28-2013, 06:59 AM
Hmmm, thanks for the advice everyone. And the support. :) Glad I joined this forum.

oakbark
10-28-2013, 02:58 PM
Here's my tip:
Think "Everyone else is a fool."

This works at least for me on all levels. If I tone my hair green, if I speak in riddles, if I walk backwards, choose not to have kids, or I tell them a story..


Here are the rules for the "Everyone else is a fool." philosophy

As long as whatever we do does not disrespect, endanger or harass other people (like having barbecue every day, or doing neighborhood burnouts every night, or taking a seat before a old lady..) or do material damage (now and future impact) on property, nature and resources, feel free to ignore whatever people say or think about you and your work.

They simply don't get it. Problem solved. Push ahead.

Phaeal
10-28-2013, 10:30 PM
Either I'm a curmudgeon and cynic or I've discovered one of the secrets of the universe, and that is:

Most people -- not all, but most -- aren't really interested in what your unwritten story's about. They're just trying to be polite by showing interest, and if the writer starts rambling on, they panic because they're not sure their eyes aren't going glassy with boredom. Also, what the hell are they going to say when the writer finishes up and stands there all nakedly vulnerable in his hope he's bowled them over?

Two solutions, for the two basic writer personalities:

Chatty: Come up with a line or two of elevator pitch (accurate or not) and leave it at that.

Nonchatty: Be honest. Say that you don't talk about unfinished work because you find that makes it slip away from you.

NeuroFizz
10-28-2013, 10:44 PM
I'm a little confused. Is the OP saying that discussion of an idea "jinxes" the project so it never ends up being finished? Is so, that just sounds like an excuse to me.

Or...Is the OP is saying discussion of an idea with someone else somehow extinguishes the flame, or otherwise diminishes the enthusiasm for that project? If so, I contend...

An idea worth developing into a full story is one that can survive any discussions, favorable or unfavorable, and will continue to tickle a writer's imagination with or without disclosure to others.

Any idea that fails to hold a writer's interest, for whatever reason, likely is not going to be a strong enough idea to carry that writer through the full writing process no matter how is it treated or discussed.

Gena_Skyler
10-29-2013, 03:58 AM
Neurofizz, it is the second. The moment I let the cat out of the bag the idea dies inside me, no matter how brilliant it seems to me. Maybe because it is in it's most basic format had has not had a chance to fully form, I don't know.

Kallithrix
10-29-2013, 04:39 AM
ok, now i feel like the only freak on this forum who HAS to talk about my ideas, otherwise they dry up and die in my brain. Talking it through is what gets the ideas flowing, words coming out, and it seems i can't write a scene these days without discussing it with someone first.

My cousin and my best friend are both writers, and I can talk to them for hours about my book, sometimes to the point where i worry i am just pissing them off. But they do it back to me, so it's a pretty give and take thing. If i didn't have them i think i would go insane.


They've actually done studies that showed that people who talk about a project tend to accomplish less on that project, and feel more satisfied with having accomplished less. People who don't talk about it get more done.

This explains a lot... :(


The act of talking about it gives your brain some positive feedback that fools it into thinking that it's already accomplished something concrete. If you keep all your excitement inside, there's nowhere for your energy to go except into the project itself.

I don't find this at all - as mentioned above, the opposite is the case for me. Letting the energy and excitement out is the only way to unlock it, and then i can go write it all down. Just putting butt in chair usually results in me staring at a blank screen and wishing i had someone to bash ideas around with.

mfarraday
10-29-2013, 04:47 AM
I get extremely excited about my ideas and shout them from the rooftops. That doesn't dampen my enthusiasm usually. But AW'ers pointing out the lack of logic in my ideas, can and does sometimes set me back. LOL. Good luck!

Marian Perera
10-29-2013, 04:49 AM
ok, now i feel like the only freak on this forum who HAS to talk about my ideas, otherwise they dry up and die in my brain.

I'm sure there are other people who have to talk about ideas - like those who do collaborative work. I doubt they could discuss ideas for new books with their writing partners if the discussion actually prevented them from writing the books.

I can talk about ideas or keep them a secret, no difference either way. Sometimes it helps me to talk, if the other person I'm talking to is a good brainstorming partner or wall to bounce ideas off. But it's not a requirement.

LupineMoon
11-16-2013, 11:10 PM
I don't tell my family because my family doesn't understand my love of writing. I'm the artistic child of a doctor and an engineer, they just don't get it. And I do share some ideas with friends, mostly because at least this year's NaNo is a collaborative project. I'm doing the writing but I'm getting help with setting up the universe.

And I agree. I have a friend who shares many of her ideas with me, and by the time she gets to publishing, I pretty much know the entire story and find I can't really read the books because I know what's going to happen.