Why You Want To Use It Or Let It Go

  • Category: Big Idea

There’s a story Elizabeth Gilbert tells in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

The gist of it is that she let an idea for a novel—a very detailed yarn involving the Amazon jungle—get away from her. She couldn’t make it work and finally set it aside.

Later, when she met author Ann Patchett over lunch they compared notes on what they each called their “Amazon novel”. Unlike her friend, Patchett was 100 pages into the writing and committed to publishing.

Gilbert summarized her take: “It was about this middle-aged spinster from Minnesota who’s been quietly in love with her married boss for many years. He gets involved in a harebrained business scheme down in the Amazon jungle. A bunch of money and a person go missing, and my character gets sent down there to solve things, at which point her quiet life is completely turned into chaos. Also, it’s a love story.”

Patchett was stunned—it was EXACTLY the same plot as her novel.

What are the chances, right? Luckily, Gilbert had truly let her novel concept go and was in fact happy her idea not only hadn’t died, but that her talented new friend had discovered it in her own imagination.

But what if it was YOUR idea that someone else took to market first—a book, a course, a podcast, a service?

That would suck.

Which is why it’s usually best to run with your ideas when they’re fresh, decide quickly if they have merit and then dive in—or consciously move on.

That’s so much better than seeing your potential thought leadership pop up in someone else’s territory.