Do you work on your best ideas or do you shelve your best ideas to work on later, focusing on the good enough piece you’re planning to submit to an editor? Do you think your readers would prefer your best idea or the good enough one?
Your OK ideas may get you published, but if you want to develop and build a readership, you need to stop shelving those best ideas and start writing them.
Why do writers resist writing their best ideas and so cheat their readers?
- Lack of skill – a feeling that the best ideas deserve the best writing. They do but writing OK ideas leads to OK writing, as a writer you need to challenge yourself and stretch your skills.
- Lack of experience – you only gain experience by writing. If you put off writing your best poem, experimental short story or brilliant novel until you get your MA in Creative Writing, PhD in Literature or complete the next workshop, you’ll never gain the experience.
- Self-doubt – this is stage fright, get out on stage and do it (remember at this stage, the audience can’t see you.)
- Worry it won’t find an audience – audiences can’t read your writing until you’ve put words on paper. It’s at the editing stage you start working out where you will target your writing and you can’t edit a blank sheet of paper.
- Need for a Plan B – you won’t run out of ideas and ideas generate other ideas. If you genuinely want to be a writer, you’ll be reading and exposing yourself to plenty of other ideas. If you cling desperately to a Plan B, your heart’s not fully in Plan A and you’ll disappoint readers. Plan B is your day job, not a bank of ideas no one will ever read because you won’t write them.
Why do writers need to use their best ideas?
- Good enough ideas create good enough writing and that’s not good enough.
- Readers might notice your name in a magazine and read your competent poem, but that won’t inspire them (or a publisher) to buy your poetry collection or recommend you.
- Your best ideas will stretch your writing and prompt you to learn and develop your talent.
- If you shelve a best idea to work on later, you’ll loose your initial passion which gives you the momentum to overcome inertia and self-doubt and actually start writing and hit creative flow. When you return to an idea you shelved, it’s harder to overcome that inertia.
- If you want to be recognised as a brilliant writer, you have to use your brilliant ideas.
Give your readers what they want: your best writing. If you cheat your readers by offering the good enough, the mundane, your readers will move on to the writer shining with passion and novelty.
By Emma Lee