Writers Don’t Want Your Damn Ideas

She is one thousand percent done with your shit.

Every writer has had this experience:

You meet someone, and they find out—maybe you tell them, maybe someone else already has—that you write. And they get this gleam in their eye and you just know what the next words out of their goddamn mouth will be: “Hey, I’ve got this idea. It’s all ready to go. Now that I’ve done the hard part, you should write it for me and then we can go splits.

If you are a nicer person than me, you listen to them politely. If you are a much nicer person than me, you make some noncommittal noises and let them leave with the impression that you consider yourself lucky to have heard their idea.

If you’re exactly like me, though, you treat them to Cersei Lannister-style bitch face until they feel the cold winds of eternity blowing through their soul, laying freezing waste to what they encounter, cutting down men like wheat in the field.* Winter isn’t coming, you shambling pubefarmer; it’s here, in my eyes.

Writers don’t want your ideas. We have enough of our own.

Seriously, whenever I finish something and am trying to decide on the next thing to write, it’s never a case of looking for an idea. It’s a case of choosing from the dozens of new ideas that are clustered around my feet, all clamouring for attention. If you’re imagining standing ankle-deep in an adorable crowd of puppies, don’t. They’re not tame, these ideas. They climb over each other. They bite. The stronger ones bury the weaker, so  what I’m actually choosing from is a hundred varieties of monster: vicious, blood-thirsty, and demanding.

And then these happy assholes come along with their idea—their usually poorly-thought-out, undernourished, barely-alive idea—and want you to put it before all the clamouring monsters clawing at your legs and climbing up your back. Because, despite the fact that they’ve never found it interesting enough to spend hours putting the damn thing to paper themselves, this idea is just that fucking awesome. And, the implication is, your ideas are shit.

Because these people think that a writer is nothing more than a tape recorder with a pulse, a device to record their genius. Anyone can do it, right? They certainly could, if they only had the time. But since they’re far too busy doing important things, they’re willing to share the glory with poor little you.

Note to everyone who feels the desire to offer their ideas to writers: don’t. We are not the elves to your shoemaker. We don’t need your ideas. And we are far, far too busy for your shit.

*Not always true. Sometimes I just laugh.

9 thoughts on “Writers Don’t Want Your Damn Ideas

  1. My favorite was when I was having a chat with someone who’d asked about my writing. Among other things, I mentioned something to the effect that having ideas is the easy part and actually writing them in an engaging way is the hard part, which is what people who don’t write don’t understand. I also mentioned that this is why people who don’t write are so quick to volunteer ideas, which is kind of a pet peeve.

    Later on in that conversation, I kid you not, he said, “So, I have this great idea for a book…”


  2. I’m always open to new ideas myself. More often than not the idea probably won’t interest me, but you never know, it really could be a great idea. What if, for instance, someone came to you with this great idea for a British spy who goes by a codename of 007 and has a license to kill? The person with the idea doesn’t have a clue about how to write, but will share the idea if you do the writing? Hmm… OK, probably not ever going to happen like that, but like I said, doesn’t hurt to listen. Just in case.

    • To be fair, I have worked with other people on ideas and projects and had a good time. But those were people I knew or had a writing relationship with. The people in the example above are the people who do this in the middle of a dinner party or on the fucking train, and there’s an arrogance that goes with telling someone you just met that they should drop what they’re doing and do your thing instead.
      But, hey, if you like listening to the ideas, then cool. You do you. And you’re probably less likely to end up in jail for assault.

  3. So I have this idea for a story about a blogger who fucking SNAPS and goes on a murderous rampage with her minions of genetically engineered piranha puppies, that came from her ex- husband’s lab – who’s also unbelievably awesome on the MMA circuit to relieve stress – and he and his boyfriend have to save the day. Ooooo! and the boyfriend is a scientist working for the military in advanced robotics, but he has cancer and hasn’t told the hero yet, and then….

    Why are you looking at me like that? It’s kinda turning me on….

  4. Ha ha ha! Or, you get, “I was going to write a book, but…” they never finish. “But what?” I prod. I once had a doctor tell me during a visit, “Must be nice to make up stories for a living and not really work.” I was in his exam room at the time!

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