HOW TO KILL YOUR CREATIVITY
I just did it again--rushed into the family room with a great new idea. Couldn’t wait to tell my husband the core message for a new story—meaning something I meant to write immediately, starting in a few minutes. Unfortunately, I got the wrong response. He said “EEEYOOOGH!” exactly the way a teenager says it when you suggest he trim his father’s ear hairs, or put on that new shirt from Aunt Helen . . . or worse, stop showing his plumber’s crack.
I don’t know how to spell the sound, but you’ve all heard it. It’s the world’s briefest auditory conveyance of No Way, You’ve Got to be Kidding, or That’s a Rotten Idea If I’ve Ever Heard One.
My idea for the new story fizzled like a party balloon with a pin prick. The creative air seeped out, faster and faster, and I just stood there, dismayed. And finally I said it. “Well, I’ve just broken the first rule of creativity.”
Rob simply looked at me. He doesn’t know the rule, and he wouldn’t care about it if he knew. But he’ll gladly give me his first reaction to anything he considers even slightly ludicrous.
Have you caught on to the rule?
In case you haven’t, the rule is, Never share the first blush of a creative idea with ANYONE. Not until you’ve got it down on paper, not until the thing is mostly written and you can’t easily unwrite it.
If it was a dumb idea in the first place, you’ll soon know. If it wasn’t, you risk letting someone kill your baby while it’s still in the womb.
Everyone who writes knows this rule, and no one better than I. My inner voice invariably says, Don’t share this, and I should have listened, but I didn’t; instead I rushed out to expose my great new vision to toxic fumes. Not too smart.
I finally said, “Nora Ephron’s book is called, ‘I Remember Nothing.’ Do you think that’s a good title?” And he said No.
Well, that was some comfort, anyway. I’m sure Ephron has sold a million copies of this very funny book with the mediocre title. Except I happen to love it, bad title and all.
I’m also willing to bet she wrote the book first and asked for opinions last. Which means, among all her other talents, Ephron knew enough not to stifle her creativity.