The Writing Sparrow Episode 3 | Is Your Book Idea Good Enough?

We’ve all doubted whether our novel ideas are enough, but I’m here to tell you that yes, it is, because all it needs to do is exist!

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Unknown Speaker 0:08
Hello, and welcome to the Writing Sparrow podcast. I’m Sarina Langer, and this podcast is all about writing, publishing and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at Let’s get started!

Unknown Speaker 0:29
Hi, friends and sparrows. Welcome back to episode three of my podcast. It’s the 21st of September 2020. And today, I’d like to talk about a common question I actually get quite often: is your book idea good enough?

Unknown Speaker 0:46
I see quite a few people who think that they have this idea that they would really like to write about, that they think might be interesting as a book, but they haven’t started yet or they’ve shelved the book and they haven’t come back to it for a long time, because they don’t think that it’s good enough to ever be published. This is something that many of us have felt at one point or another, and there is a really simple answer to this. And that’s that yes, your idea is more than good enough. Because all your book idea needs to do is just exist. And then everything that you do with it, you know, all that comes later, the things that really make it unique to you. All that can come later. The only thing that your idea needs to do is just be there for you to work with and to mould into this beautiful thing. But for all that to happen, first you need the idea. So just alone for that reason, yes, your idea is plenty good enough. Your first draft is a whole other matter and it deserves its own episode.

Unknown Speaker 1:54
One thing I also see quite often is that maybe you really like your idea, but it’s been done before or you’re not sure if it has been done before. And again, there’s an easy answer to that, and that is that yes, it has been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you before. There’s actually a really easy experiment with this that you can do that might just put your worries at ease a bit. Give two people you know – you can totally be one of those people – a writing prompt, anything you can think of, and ask both of them to just write a small story to that prompt for 10 minutes or however long you’d like. And I guarantee you that both of those stories are going to be a little bit different. They will both have the same foundation, which is of course the writing prompt that you have set, but because two different people are then writing them, they will go into completely different ideas. There might not even be the same genre anymore. So, if you’re worried that your idea alone isn’t good enough, just see how much just one little prompt can be taken in completely different directions.

Unknown Speaker 3:00
My process is usually that, to start with, I really like my idea. This is why I’ve decided to write a book about it, because it’s really taken me by storm and this is something I really want to write about. So I do that. And then usually somewhere while writing the first draft, I start to doubt the idea. And then eventually I put the book away, let it rest for a bit before I start editing. And then normally when I start going over it again, I suddenly realise that actually, it’s a really good idea and actually, there’s a few really good things in this book. But then by the time I’m done with it, I’m not so sure anymore. And that’s perfectly normal because you end up spending so much time with it.

Unknown Speaker 3:45
But remember, your idea is just the first building block. After that, once you actually start writing and you start to develop your characters and you start to build your world and you get beta readers and critique partners and your editor and all those great people involved, your book is going to develop a lot. So you just can’t know where it’s going to go that early on. And, you know, chances are that by the time you’re done writing your book and you’re ready to publish your first idea will still be there, but it will also have come such a long way that you can’t really compare it in the same way anymore, because it’s unique just because it’s changed so much from what it was when you first thought of it.

Unknown Speaker 4:30
Now, if you’re still worried that something that you’ve written is too similar or that it’s just simply too predictable and therefore not strong enough, there is one tip that I got roughly 10 years ago when I wrote my first book – and that’s before Rise of the Sparrows even, this is the book I don’t normally talk about. It’s not something I’ve published. It was sort of my first adventure into writing anything longer than an A4 page. And one of my favourite authors at the time, Karen Miller – she’s written the Godspeaker trilogy, for example: Empress The Raven Kingdom, and Hammer of God – and she’s actually the reason that I started writing at all. I remember reading Empress and just thinking, I want to do this, this is awesome, I need to do this myself. And I had a very brave moment, and I sent her an email. And I figured that she would never actually reply to me, because, you know, in my head, she was just one of the biggest, most important most famous authors of all time. I asked her if there was anything that she would tell me that, you know, that I might be able to take away. And she actually got back to me and I was just… I was so over the moon, that she had taken the time to reply to me. She said that one thing that she was told when she started writing is don’t write down the first thing that you can think of. Instead, go with the ninth thing, or the 10th thing, or even the 11th thing, because if it’s obvious to you and it’s the first thing that you think of, chances are it will be obvious to your readers as well. And then they won’t be surprised, and they will be able to maybe predict your entire plot, and that’s not exciting. So instead, go with maybe the 10th solution that you can think of, because by that point, you probably really need to think about where you can take your book and what you can do with it, say, won’t be obvious to your reader anymore, either.

Unknown Speaker 6:31
So if you’re still thinking about whether your book idea is good enough to do anything with, yes, it really, really is. You will take it into such a great direction that you can’t even predict yourself right now at this point. It will grow so much more. But it can only do that if you start writing and try to do something with it. I actually really envy you this stage, because it’s honestly one of my favourite things in the beginning. You’ve just had this idea that you may turn into a book. And it’s so exciting to me because anything can happen at this point. Your characters can go anywhere, they can become anyone, they can do anything. Your book can become anything you want. So yes, your idea is definitely good enough. Because who knows what kind of journey it’s going to take you on? But you need to be brave, and you need to start and then just see what happens with it. And, you know, if at the end, if you’re still not sure, you don’t have to do this yourself. You’ll have beta readers, you can get critique partners, you’ll have an editor, and all those people will be more than able to tell if there is something in your book that’s still a little bit flat even then.

Unknown Speaker 7:46
So don’t worry about this at this stage, just get started. And I guarantee you if you put in the work, your idea is going to be absolutely incredible. And it’s going to lead you to places that you can’t imagine at this point. So just get started.

Unknown Speaker 8:02
And this is your action step today: just start writing. And I know it’s really hard, the beginning is always the worst and just your first sentence alone is going to change so many times. But you’ve already got an idea, and that is more than enough to get started with. And remember, you can always polish your draft later. But you can’t do that if you don’t write it down in the first place. All your idea needs to do right now is exist. And then the rest later is honestly mostly up to the editing and just… Your first draft? Just… Just enjoy it. Enjoy the process. Just get it out there and enjoy every second of it. If you’re still doubting if your idea is good enough, feel free to leave a comment, or you can also message me elsewhere on social media – links for that will follow in a second and they’re also in the show notes. I’m happy to talk about your idea and tell you that it’s good enough any day. So just get in touch and we can have a chat about that.

Unknown Speaker 9:00
Thank you very much for listening. If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on twitter @sarina_langer, on Instagram and Facebook @arinalangerwriter, and of course on my website at Until next time! Bye!

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Transcribed by Otter

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Sarina Langer