On Killing Your Favorite Ideas

So I subscribe to James Clear’s newsletter, and this morning’s edition included the following insight:

Qualities that lead to increasing intelligence:

1. The curiosity to experiment and explore.
2. The honesty to observe the world as it is, not as you wish it to be.
3. The humility to kill your favorite ideas when you learn something new.
4. The consistency to repeat this cycle for life.

The whole “kill your favorite ideas” thing feels particularly relevant right now because I’m in the middle of asking myself whether this NEXT BOOK draft I’ve been working on will actually turn out to be anything.

I mean, beyond the fact that I’ll have completed and done at least one revision pass on another novel, which is not nothing.

But I keep vacillating between “this book has some really interesting bits in it” and “this book has a lot of problems,” in part because I’ve set myself up with a character who, as soon as she realizes there’s a portal to another world, starts asking herself how she’s going to do her taxes.

That isn’t the big question she asks herself; that’s still a spoiler. But it’s like, if you were an adult who were given the opportunity to disappear from Earth, you’d either be the person who hops on through without thinking twice—and that person is a character in the story—or the person who asks herself whether she needs to successfully fake her own death or figure out how to keep her life and relationships and finances running while she’s gone.

When I did a tarot reading on what might happen with this book, the cards suggested I’d finish the writing process by the end of the summer, celebrate what I had accomplished, and then either drastically change or kill the project. (Yes, I drew the Death card again.)

I am planning to do another 1000 Words of Summer as soon as I get back from Fincon in September, because the first 1000 Words of Summer was very effective in helping me get stuff on the page without letting my mind get too much in the way, and I have a few gaps in this story that I’m hoping that kind of writing can solve.

Summer doesn’t really end until September 23, after all. I have time.

And then I guess I have to see where I am with the project, or maybe send it to a few people to read, or find a writing workshop or course designed for people who have a finished draft, or put the whole thing in a drawer for a while. (Perhaps it won’t turn out to be death at all. Just sleep.)

I’m not going to quit before I’m done. But I am curious if this particular “favorite idea” of “what would realistically happen if a contemporary adult found themselves in a portal fantasy” will turn out to be something that I need to let go, once I’ve written it all down. ❤️

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