Tools for Discovery Writers: The Vacuum

The enthusiasm writers have for sharing their stories is akin to a dog’s enthusiasm for walks. Someone asks “what’s your story about?” and our tails start wagging, we get a big goofy smile, and we bark at anyone who will listen. Well, except, maybe not the barking.

I started writing at seventeen years old. Wearing my story on my sleeve, I’d arrive at parties to share my ideas. There were always willing ears among the gravity bongs, beer bongs, and the beer pong audience. I was a writer and I would talk about my story and the listener would be enthralled. Excitement guided me to share my ideas and I felt certain the raw idea would result in shock and awe. Except, it didn’t.

Sharing your half baked ideas with people can dry up your creative well. Especially when the person you’re sharing with doesn’t match your enthusiasm. Their lack of reciprocal zeal shouldn’t come as a surprise. Imagine you were a musician and trying to describe a favourite song to an acquaintance. No matter how well you describe the song, it’s never going to live up to the experience of hearing the music. Also, not everyone is really passionate about stories. Even if you share the most interesting idea for a story, they’re going to be underwhelmed.

Some people swear by brainstorming an idea with their friends, and I think that’s okay, everyone’s process is different. Personally, I never share my ideas with anyone until they’re finished. There’s always a chance, even with close friends, that they don’t match your enthusiasm and make you question your idea. You start wondering if the idea is the problem, and think maybe you should search for a better one. The next idea meets the same fate; no one seems to feel the same excitement you do about the concept. You end up never writing the book and get lost in a perpetual search for the idea that will have people praising your genius.

No one will be as excited about your idea as you are. You’re the only person who can see the potential, because the idea exists in the landscape of your mind. Do yourself a favour and keep that idea inside, safe from scrutiny, until it grows into a beautiful, polished story.

Telling people about your idea early is like peeking at your presents on Christmas eve. No matter how great the present, the eventual opening will be spoiled because you opened it up too early. Ideas are fragile things, especially for discovery writers, and they’re continually developing as you write the story. Keep your ideas safe until they’re strong enough to face the world.

When you’ve written the whole story, done a few edits, and finally have a strong vision of what the story is, you’re better equipped to talk about it. The synopsis and elevator pitch acts as a vital part of selling a story, but stories are meant to be read, and more importantly for the writer, stories are meant to be written.

When you’ve edited your work, sharing the story becomes a necessity to improve, because another set of eyes catches problems you will miss. But until you finish, do your story a favour and keep it to yourself.

Drop in the comments and share your experiences writing in a vacuum or sharing your work. Different things work for different writers and I love hearing about different processes. Follow for more writing tips from a daily discovery writer.

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