Write It While It's Hot

Aug 7, 2022

Ideas are like candles. We must make the most of their light while it lasts.

When an idea strikes, it’s tempting to write ourselves a private note to come back to later. This is a great first step, but it’s risky to stop there. When you abandon an idea so early, it leaves the idea in a vulnerable state. If you don’t come back soon, what you return to might be unrecognizable.

Every writer has seen this scenario before: You have an idea. You excitedly write some outlines, using wording that makes sense to you in that moment. You go on with your life, and plan to come back to it. You don’t. Weeks or months later, you look at the note and wonder, “What is this about? And who cares about it?” The answer to the latter question is not you, but a past version of you.

Write it while the idea is hot.

If you’re lucky, a future spark may revive it. But in all likelihood, once you wait, it becomes too late. Your interests shift quickly. It’s almost impossible to write a great piece about something you don’t care about. (If you try to force it, readers will notice. A writer’s energy—or lack thereof—is revealed in every word.)

Not every idea needs to be shared. But when I’m gripped by an idea, I do my best to write something about it quickly, before its energy fades.

To play devil’s advocate: What about the ideas that need time to simmer? Sometimes we can put an idea aside and come back to it with a new lens—a refreshed perspective that we didn’t have before. Even in those cases, I’d argue that a short published piece is far more useful than an unpublished outline.

The clarifying work of early expression eases the task of future connection.

As often as possible, write it while it’s hot.