Idea novelty versus urgency of publication

2012-01-31

in Geek stuff, Writing

One sign that a person has had a genuinely novel idea is that they are in no particular hurry to publish it. When Idea A and Idea B are all over the place already, it is obvious that Idea A+B will be thought up by dozens of clever people in short order.

There is less of a rush to assert authorship or more unusual ideas, since it is unlikely that another person will dream them up soon. Thus there is an inverse relationship between the degree to which an idea represents novel and noteworthy thought and the urgency with which it must be published.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon January 31, 2012 at 8:16 am

Is this a burn on Twitter?

Nadine January 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm

An interesting, logical theory.

An innovative author doesn’t have to worry much about someone beating them to the punch. But let’s say I’m an innovative author (I’m not, but let’s say it anyway because it’s good for my self-esteem). I’m impulsive! I’m excited about my idea! I want to share with everyone right now! What other reasons might I have for cooling my jets and waiting a bit before unleashing my unique perspective on the world?

Milan January 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I think there is a distinction to be drawn between authors who write about important and interesting but non-obvious things and ‘innovative writers’. To me, at least, ‘innovative’ suggests ‘done with a new method’. So, the author of the first essay or novel or steampunk sci-fi screenplay might be ‘innovative’.

A non-obvious piece of writing, by contrast, can be situated within a well established genre. The ideas in Stephen Pinker’s The Blank Slate were largely novel, but I wouldn’t say his writing style is especially innovative. The same is true for many other works of fiction and non-fiction.

As for you personally, I think you should continue to avoid holding back. You seem to be at your best when expressing yourself in an ecstatic and unfiltered way.

Milan January 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Is this a burn on Twitter?

I think it can be meaningfully applied in that context.

In today’s world, it is easy to do 90% of your total reading on a computer screen. Hour for hour, I think time spent reading printed magazines or books is probably more valuable in terms of things learned and new thoughts provoked.

The internet is on a constant rapid-fire cycle. We may not do our best and most creative thinking when working in that way.

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