Yes, you've read that right — DON’T Show, DON’T Tell. This is not to be confused with the Show Don’t Tell rule we've talked about before, or the military’s former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
This has to do with those incredible stories that live inside of you. Yeah, you know the ones. If you place your hand on your chest you might feel their thump-wump, thump-wump as they beat against your ribcage.
Sure, physicians will tell you that you’re actually feeling the beat of your heart, but what do they know? Go ask a neurosurgeon if he or she has ever found the thought generator while poking around in a brain…
Actually, don’t do that. It’s just mean — it makes them stammer and twitch.
Anyway, those captive and captivating stories will thump, knock, beg, plead, and pound until you let them out.
But here’s the rub —
If you want to be a writer, you must be sure to let them out the “write” way. Otherwise they’ll fly from that cage faster than you can say “doughnut jar.”
You see, if you tell that great plot idea to a best friend, sibling, or spouse, it is as good as gone. And then when you finally set a date with your laptop, you might find that you’re left with nothing but a pile of feathers.
I made this mistake plenty of times when I was younger. Now that I’m older, wiser, and think a lot more about bone density and bifocals, I won’t tell a thing.
Trust me, it works.
So the next time those well-meaning friends ask you what you’re working on, practice the art of being vague —
even if they offer you chocolate...
or a doughnut jar.
Be fuzzy with friends and family, but very clear with your tales…
Tell them that there is only one way out —
And that is on the page.
PROMPT: DON’T show, DON’T tell until it’s DONE. Put it on the page today.