I keep a battered copy of Jack Heffron’s The Writer’s Idea Book on my desk. I reach for it whenever I’m at a loss for where to begin. While primarily a volume of prompts, Jack’s book also lays out his philosophy on writing. In the decade I’ve owned the book, there’s one piece of advice I continue to chew over in my mind…
In the chapter “Enemies of Creativity,” Jack refers to ‘The Talker’ as particularly deflating to creativity.
“The Talker needs validation. The Talker would rather talk about an idea than confront its complexities, its obstacles. The Talker wants the glory but none of the hard work that really lies at the heart of creative efforts… Bringing in a third party is almost always a bad idea. The sense of intimacy and revelation are lost, and you end up making small talk. — page 16
Jack gives examples of several writers who zealously guard their work from discussion until it has been completed.
The reason I’m still thinking about this advice ten years after my initial encounter with it—you can probably guess—is that I’m a big talker. I have trouble keeping my mouth shut when ideas strike. I feel that talking can be helpful to free ideas that have gotten stuck somewhere between my brain and the blank page.
But every time I catch myself talking about an incomplete project, I hear Jack whisper “Stop talking!” in my ear.
This leads me to today’s questions:
- Do you talk about your ideas or works-in-progress? With everyone? Only with specific people?
- Can you think of a time when you talked all your ideas out before they hit the page/canvas/screen?
- Do you feel that talking is destructive to or constructive for your creative process?
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! For those non-writing professionals, please feel free to get specific about your craft and creative process.
Note: Writing isn’t the only creative pursuit that is susceptible to too much talking. Any creative professional may struggle with this experience. Hence, everyone is invited to join the discussion. The more the merrier!