IWSG: The Myth of the Perfect Idea


insecure-writers-support-group-badgeOne conversation I have with new writers goes like this:

Client: I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time.

Me: What’s stopping you?

Client: I can’t decide what to write about. I have a lot of ideas, but I don’t know which to choose. How do I know which will work? How do I know if people will like it? How do I find the perfect idea?

And I shake my head and tell them, “You just stop waiting, because there are no perfect ideas.”

This is how writing a book works:

  • You get an idea.
  • You roll it around in your head for a while, let it percolate and be shaped by your life, your subconscious, and your interests.
  • Then you start working on it, either pre-writing, or drafting, however your process works, and as you go along, you notice your ideas shifting. You get new ones, or realize the original premise needs to shift to accommodate something else.
  • So you shift a bit, write some more, and the same thing happens.
  • Eventually, you reach the end of your draft, and begin your revisions. You excise whole chapters, move things around, add concepts, change things around, and reorganize it all.
  • By the time you’re done, the book is shaped a lot like your original idea, but the interior is pretty different.

We’re taught to see writing as a rigid, structured process.

From idea, to outline, to draft, to revision, to editing, and eventually to publication.
But the reality of writing is different.

Writing is, and always will be, a fluid process that is bound up in the creator’s instincts, interests, and intuition as much as it’s shaped and honed by technical skills.

So don’t wait for a “perfect” idea. Just look for one that lights you up and get to work!

6 thoughts on “IWSG: The Myth of the Perfect Idea

  1. Very true. I’m not disciplined at all in my writing. I don’t plan. I try but it’s like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. I let the characters take control. Sometimes they are pains in the butt about it, but in the end it’s their story so they need to be the one to tell it.


    • There’s nothing wrong with writing without a solid plan. This doesn’t mean you are “not disciplined.” Don’t let people feed you bullshit. I am not a planner and I’m more “disciplined” to get my writing done than most of my friend with extensive outlines and pre-writing methods.


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