Having a new book idea is much like the kindling of a new romantic relationship. It usually starts unexpectedly and sometimes blossoms into something special.

Like with relationships, a new book idea starts with flirting

You’re sitting at a coffee shop doing some work between appointments. You’re minding your own business. Suddenly, you’re interrupted with a new thought. Maybe it’s amusing or entertaining or even darkly fantastical. You take some time to explore it and get to know it. This is the part where you’re just flirting with it, getting to know your new book idea. It’s new and fun, and it’s not long before you are searching for chemistry between you and the idea.

You know from past book ideas that (like new personal relationships) most aren’t going to be around for the long haul. So it’s not long after the idea initially strikes you that you begin to consider its viability. Is it an idea that has some real legs to it?

Then things start to get serious

Next, you and your new book idea are dating regularly. You know each other fairly well. You’re spending most of your free time together. Real quality time too, not just surface-level engagement. It’s here that the relationship is made or broken. You are undoubtedly going to find yourself dealing with psome rocky times. Do you love the idea enough to persevere? Is there a deep level of commitment? Or is it an idea that you’ve spent enough time with now to know it’s just not going to work out between you? And you cast it off to move on to the next idea.

If you decide at this point to overcome the obstacles you’ve run up against, your determination will likely result in a completed book project. The kind of relationship that exists for a lifetime.

Only time will tell whether it’s going to work out

I’ve had this cycle happen to me numerous times. It’s resulted in two booms that I’ve published, a few writing projects that are in various stages of production, and a few abandoned ideas.

A couple of years ago, I was struck with an idea to write about Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s extensive contributions to advocating the Bill of Rights. I had an angle on it, knew how I wanted to compile the information. I even started the research and spent hours gathering the documents I needed, finding additional sources to reference, and even mining the resources for content. But somewhere along the way, the spark went out of the project. I haven’t touched it in … a long time. I still like the idea. I’d like to write the book some day, but it’s not a priority. 

I have a half dozen other ideas that are more intriguing and pressing. Other ideas that came along afterward and drew my attention away from a project I’d become disenchanted with and wasn’t committed to any longer. 

Photo by cloud.shepherd.

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