Never Talk About Your Book

October 14, 2010

Gossip by Guerito

Pretty much the worst thing you can do to yourself, and your book, is talk about it before you’ve finished writing it.

The temptation can be strong, especially in the early stages when you’ve got this brilliant idea that excites you and keeps you up at night. Resist, resist, resist. Later, when much of it is under your belt but no-one else has seen evidence of its existence, it can difficult not to mention something that is such a vital part of your life. Before you do, prepare a succinct give-nothing-away answer to the question ‘what’s your book about?’ Never, never, never, tell anyone the plot.

Five good reasons you should never talk about your book:

  • Energy and motivation
    Talking takes the energy away from writing, especially at the beginning. It is all too easy to ‘talk out’ all the creative energy whose purpose is to get your book off the ground. Once you’ve communicated your ideas verbally, the urge to write them can fall away. Many a great book has died in the first week over a friend’s kitchen table. Button that lip and write.
  • Risk of miscarriage
    Readers must excuse the gender-specific metaphor, but if a book is a baby, the writing period is its gestation. It needs the full nine months (or, two years, if you are an elephant). Bring it out into the light of day any sooner (verbally or otherwise) and you may just find it is no longer viable.
  • Flat reactions
    You are full of excitement and enthusiasm for your book. Or you are going through a sticky patch and are riddled with doubt and indecisiveness. Either way, the last thing you need is to be confronted with someone else’s less-than-ideal reaction. People’s responses will often be nothing at all to do with your book, but writers tend to be sensitive creatures. Don’t do it to yourself.
  • Meddling
    Talk about your book before it’s finished and you are inviting meddling. You might be glad at first that your listener is taking such an interest in your characters … until they start suggesting what should happen next. This is your vision. Don’t invite other people to muddy the waters.
  • Nailing it down
    Books will often change substantially as they are written. Plot outlines are all very will, but a book will have its own idea of where its going, and will improve itself as it goes along …. so long as you haven’t already nailed it down by telling everyone what’s going to happen. To write the best book you can write, keep it to yourself.

Naturally, if you say you are writing a book, people will be curious. And of course, you want them to be interested. But for your own sake and sanity, keep your answers short. Be non-specific. Be mysterious. Say ‘you’ll just have to wait and see.’ Use the pregnancy metaphor.

If necessary, nail your door shut and buy a guard dog. But never, never talk about your book.

© Ros Barber 2010

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4 Responses to Never Talk About Your Book

  1. Pingback: What is Your Book About? | Be the Writer You Dream of Being
  2. Pingback: Write Your Tagline and Logline | Be the Writer You Dream of Being
  3. Rosemary Dun
    October 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    How very true!


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