Earlier this month, Evernote asked me to participate in their "great writers" interview series. Though they might be premature in their (exceedingly kind) use of "great,"1 the interview itself was a lot of fun and, I hope, helpful to writers just starting out.
What’s your process for evolving an idea into something more?
Ideas are pretty useless in and of themselves. Everyone has ideas! I have to repress a cringe whenever someone says to an author, “I have a great idea for a book—say, maybe you could write it!” as though writing the book were a formality, and what was really needed was someone to come in and supervise with Great Ideas.
When I have an idea for something, I try to write it out. In other words, muddle through until I know whether or not there’s really an essay or book there. And when there’s not, I toss the idea and start over. (It hurts a lot to throw out a 25,000-word book proposal.) If the idea proves to have merit, I pitch it to whichever editor I think might be interested. The worst thing you can do is know that a story is weak, but sell it anyway. It adds tremendous pressure to the ensuing process.
Read the whole interview here. My sincere thanks to the lovely people at Evernote for thinking of me. And, having been sufficiently inspired, if you'd like a free month of Evernote Premium, click here.
1 One of my favorite lines on the subject comes from Rocky III, where Apollo Creed chides Rocky, saying, "You gotta remember now, you fight great but I'm a great fighter."