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Too Many Ideas

Why writers need to focus on one topic at a time.
Dec | 10 | 2010

Dec | 10 | 2010


I’m sitting in a bar a few nights ago when I meet someone who has emailed me about writing. Turns out that she wants to write a book and has loads of questions about writing, copyrighting, editing, publishing, and marketing. Too many for email. I mean, way too many. This is more of a conversation and, as luck would have it, here we are.

I ask a few questions, such as:

  • What kind of book do you want to write? Fiction? Non-fiction?
  • Where are you in the process?
  • How much time can you devote to writing?

These are all pretty basic questions that one needs to consider before beginning the journey of writing a book.

So, I shut up, take a sip of my drink, and dive into my chicken. I figure that I have a few minutes to listen to the answers to these questions.

I was wrong.

This very nice woman has way too many ideas and, as a result, doesn’t know where to begin. Since she’s looking for work, she has a great deal of time (probably too much) to conceptualize. I start thinking about my friend Scott Berkun’s post about writing 1,000 words. I consider myself a good writer but I can’t concurrently compose six blog posts while doing an article and editing a chapter for a book.

You can’t properly flush out ideas out in a vacuum.

Simon Says: Dive In

I’ll tell you what I told her. Pick and idea and run with it. See where it goes. See if it has legs. See if your friend like it. See if you like it. Worrying about registration with the US Library of Congress when you don’t have a book outline doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense. If you have two books or more in you, that’s fine. Spend half of your day on each one. Alternate days.

You can’t properly flush out ideas out in a vacuum.


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