The ‘your new book idea sounds like it could be a bestseller’ comment, nice as it sounds, can creatively cripple a writer.
Any form of strong praise for a book idea from a friend, work colleague or a family member can lead to certain writers getting carried away, placing unnecessary stress on themselves and totally killing the idea in their head.
There are 5 stages to this stressful situation:
- Writer Euphoria. You have been blessed with an amazing new story idea. Writing it has taken over your life. You are spending hours delving deeper into this idea and as you have been locked away writing for so long loved ones have forgotten what you look like. This creative high has put a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye. It is going to be the making of you! Literary world watch out!
- Graft. You start to work at this idea, hammering out thousands of words. Occasionally you pause to take a breath and wipe away the sweat from your brow before happily returning to your work. 30k words later and you are on a literary roll. You don’t want the creative buzz to leave you but as we all know in Writing Land…all good things must come to an end!
- Idea Reveal. As this new idea of yours is so special you struggle to keep it to yourself. It lives inside your mouth waiting to tumble out. You have to be on constant vigil not to let the idea out because, as we all know, once an unfinished story idea is let out it can be shot down by others within a matter of seconds. New story ideas are fragile and delicate things which should be locked away in safe boxes until they have been written. This story idea does slip out – gasp! Without thinking you end up telling a non-writing friend, loved one, distant relative or colleague at work. “My book is about a woman who is in a narrow and unsatisfying life rut, added to this no diet can get rid of her excess timber and she doesn’t feel attractive. One day she gets accidentally beamed up into space as a result of some intergalactic error and finds herself on a spaceship with a hunky spaceman. They fall in love, have some intimate moments whilst passing by the rings of Saturn, she saves Earth from destruction using her amazing problem solving skills, figures out her life purpose, returns to Earth…feeling happy about herself, a couple of stone lighter and looking hot for her age..sigh!” As soon as the story falls off your tongue you go into shock. It’s out! Your secret is out! Cue your beating heart and dry mouth. For a couple of seconds you prepare yourself for the usual “what a load of crap!” look and roll of eyes from the non-writer. But…wait you don’t get that! They have this huge smile on their face. You can tell they know you are onto something with this idea. OMG what a moment! You get a huge urge to rush home and write some more.
- Bestseller Comment. Just as you are about to leave and race away to Writing Land the life changing event happens! With sparkling eyes and a huge grin your loved one / non-writer friend / colleague turns to you and gushes “that is amazing! It’s like a film mash-up of Shirley Valentine and Alien… I think you have a bestseller there!” In your head you can hear the faint ringing of the new story death knell. Watch out here comes the self-imposed literary pressure! The words ‘bestseller’ ping around your head. OMG you are writing a bestseller! Gasp! Can you really have a bestselling idea on your hands? Ok, so this person has no literary experience – but let’s just put that low-level detail to one side! You did think your story was a little far-fetched but maybe that was just writer anxiety setting in. Best seller – oh wow! Hang on – did they just say BESTSELLER? Cue TERROR!! Words and ideas for your story evaporate and you are left with an empty brain in a matter of seconds.
- Mess. Weeks later you find yourself wishing that you had not received the ‘bestseller’ comment as things have not gone so well. Why didn’t they just give you the obligatory ‘ugh’ or ‘oh’ after hearing your story? It has been such a struggle. If only they knew the pressure you put upon yourself after hearing their reaction to your story. Every time you have sat down to write your brain reminds you of the ‘bestseller’ comment and the pressure of writing something amazing creatively paralyses you. The self-doubt has been horrific – you can’t write a bestseller! Instead you have found great comfort in a Netflix series, painting egg shells and darning old socks. Enjoying the rings of Saturn whilst in the arms of a hunky space cowboy feels like a distant memory – sigh!
The moral of this tale is….don’t let your story idea slip out before its written and has been in front of someone with literary experience!
Have a great day!