Do the Work Wednesday #4: Sharing your Ideas

by Lian on February 22, 2012

One question I got a lot on the book tour was about working with a writer’s group to keep me on track. (Couldn’t have done it without them!) Other writers wanted to know if it was “safe” to share your book idea with others writers. Wasn’t I worried someone was going to steal my idea? The quick answer: no.

Maybe if I was writing a high-concept thriller, I might have been more cautious. But in my writers group, I was working with other professional writers who  had their own projects going. I didn’t get the sense anyone was trolling for ideas. And secondly, nobody else could write in my voice. Even  if somebody had “stolen” my idea, nobody would ever be able to write quite the way I write.

I trusted that sharing my work would have more benefits than keeping it locked up without input.

At the LTD conference  for entrepreneurs a couple of weeks ago, the subject of “stole ideas” came up again. In this context, two women who had started tech companies were relating their experience gathering a team of advisers and getting advice from “anyone who could be helpful” in the initial stages of the idea.  The moderator asked about concern over  stolen ideas, and the CEO of Plum District laughed off the question, ” It is SO hard to start a company and so much work, that if anyone really wanted to steal the idea and make it happen, more power to them. “

In other words, steal my idea. I dare you.

I’ve seen paranoia about stolen ideas really paralyze writers and would -be entrepreneurs. They spend so  much time and energy on protecting the “intellectual property” that they forget to develop and execute the idea! Should you be careful and protect yourself legally? Of course, but don’t get so weighed down in the sanctity of your idea and you make that your focus. My advice, find a group of like-minded people with relevant experience and tap into their knowledge. I believe well-considered critiques on a project can only improve the initial idea.

Have you gathered a panel of advisers– either formally or informally? Do you have plans to share your idea/project/plans ? What have you gotten out of  seeking advice or help?

Embracing my chaos, Lian

Related Posts:

Do the Work #3: How’s it going so far?

Do the Work #2: Getting started




Lian March 1, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Jill– putting your creative ideas out there is hard. One of the toughest things to learn ( or accept) is that not everyone is going to love you. It sounds obvious. You know there are writers/actors/singers that YOU don’t like… and yet, when someone doesn’t like you, it hurts.

My advice is to grow a thick skin, only seek critiques from people you trust, and don’t read the bad stuff! The good news/bad news is that for someone to have an opinion on your work, they have to see it first. That means, someone is paying attention.

Like your first post. Keep going…


Jill March 1, 2012 at 10:29 AM

I’ve started up a blog as a creative outlet (wrote my first post yesterday), and my concern is not having someone steal my idea – it is that maybe people won’t like my idea, and how embarrassing would that be, right? I think I’m better at drawing than writing, so I decided that my blog will include pictures. I put my blog in the website spot of this comment so that you can see it – just don’t tell me if it’s bad because of the previously mentioned embarrassment issue… :)

patty s February 24, 2012 at 6:10 PM

I like the idea of sharing ideas and helping each other out. I’ve often found that the people who are the most generous with their time and their ideas are the most successful. And probably happier, too.

After this post, I spent some time talking with one of my counterparts at another hospital system in the Twin Cities. We were both trying to figure out how best to do the same thing–and we were able to come up with a workable solution for both of us.

Cyndi February 23, 2012 at 5:32 AM

It’s school vacation week so my usual routine is off and I’m finding it trickier to find time to get the work done. Sounds a little like an excuse, but I have to say, I am enjoying the extra hour of sleep!

I just wanted to say that I’m incredibly inspired by the women/men who post here – it doesn’t make any difference to me what the goal is, I love knowing that others are working on a project/professional pursuit or health/self-care goal – they are all equally valid and worthwhile. I’m in great company – thank you!

Mari – I could not do what you do – the ultra marathons and long distance running, but I really admire you for that. Such a dedication to training translates to so many other things. I hope you find good alternatives, including yoga to work for you as your body is healing.

Ma Schmidt February 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Funny you should mention – there’s a local researcher who I think could really mentor me and some of my work is based on her research. She called me to have lunch today (which I couldn’t do) and I immediately assumed she was wanting to criticize my work and tell me how “off” I am! Turns out, after sharing some of it verbally, she is sooo enthused and wants to meet frequently to help/stay in touch. Reading your post I realize that instead of hiding out and feeling like a “phony” I need to reach out to others for support. And, one of my new mantras is “failure is feedback” – so if there were a critique, I’m going to try to focus on how much it can help me grow.

On another note (two goals going on here)….I’ve worked out 6/7 days this week and gotten through a trip to a conference with “higher status” colleagues (read: my department head) at which I had no real control over food choices and, actually, did alright! Will weigh in tomorrow for the “truth” (weight watchers) but feeling good about it!

Thanks, all –

And Mari — taking care of yourself is ALWAYS the best thing to do. Would you tell your daughter or your best friend to keep training given the same conditions? Rest and be nice to yourself.

Mari February 22, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Thank you for last week’s podcast. You made a statement that hit home for me. I’m coming to terms with changing/adapting my game plan/goals.

My goals this week are all fitness related…

Although I haven’t come to terms with this news yet, I’m going to have to stop training for the ultra (I will find another one this summer). My left leg has been tingling/pain/numb for two weeks now. The smart decision is to stop. Right? Please someone confirm this :)

So it’s time to regroup, and get healthy for my May 12 race. No more long runs until I have a diagnosis (next week), but I will keep up with 3-5 milers for now.

I also need to refocus on yoga and time for a still mind. I took a class last night, hoping for two more this week.

Imagine all the free time I’m going to have!

Shary February 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM

I belong to a couple of writing groups. One is a large organization that offers classes, workshops, writing sessions and much more. I also work with a small group that gets together for support and inspiration. I share what I’m working on with writers in both groups. It gives me the chance to verbalize and sometimes solidify my ideas and I also get feedback on what works for other writers. Talking about my work with them makes me feel like I have colleagues even though I work at home alone.

Kristin February 22, 2012 at 11:01 AM

My panel is two fold, one local and one distant. I have a group of women spread across the country, who give me advise if I want it, and even when I don’t. I would call them more formal, because the local folks are so very different. This is one time in my life where I truly feel alien as a working mom, so the folks I see every day I share very little with, relying more on the faraway folks. Luckily, I have been able to gain valuable insight, business advice, and a good darn shoulder on which to cry when I need to. They help me keep doing the work.

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