The first rule of writing: you don’t talk about writing

I was with a group of acquaintances last week and one of them was telling the crowd about a novel-in-progress. It’s a fantasy epic, about elves, and… okay, I have no idea. I tuned out. But right before I tuned out, I was thinking, “Dude, you are never going to get your novel finished this way.”

You do not tell everyone the details of your novel until your first draft is complete. And sometimes not even then.

Here’s why:

  1. Writing has a magical component. It disappears when talked about. (See how it disappeared as soon as I wrote that? Hmmm? You rolled your eyes at the word “magical,” and the magic disappeared.)
  2. People might tell you they LOVE your idea, they’ll buy the book for sure, and you’re destined to be a star. Then you will go home, look at your first draft, see it for the crap that it is, and spiral into clinical depression.
  3. People might tell you they like your first draft, but they’d turn the elves into dwarves, and add more battles. And even though you’re completely committed to elves, the dwarf voice will echo continuously in your head. You’ll start to realize that elves were over with Tolkien, you’ll see your first draft for the crap that it is, and spiral into clinical depression.
  4. The time that you are spending talking about your novel could actually be spent finishing your novel.

Even when you’re finished your first draft, high on the wow-I-finally-finished euphoria, you probably shouldn’t spill the details your novel. (Mea culpa on this one.) You should put it in a drawer for several weeks, then begin revisions.

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