Should I burn my book ideas?

I’ve accepted that I’ll never be a published novelist, but I still have a bunch of ideas. Should I set myself free by burning them?

Absolutely not, says our elder. You’ll never get them back once they’re gone.


Dear EWC

I write novels as a hobby, but after a decade of trying, I know now that commercial publication is not to be. I should be grateful that self-publishing is better than nothing, but I’ve spent my entire life wishing for commercial publication. Most of the time, I can ignore it, but some days, the emotional pain is so great that it hurts physically. Anyway, that’s not what I’m seeking advice for. We all have our crosses to bear. My question is about a list I have of potential titles and a summary after each one. I intended to write these ideas as books someday, but now I’m thinking I should burn the list. If I burn it, I’ll feel free, but I may easily regret it later. If I keep it, I’ll still have it, but I can’t stand it being here. Even if I hide it, I know it still exists. What should I do?


Good-Listener replies

I’m not usually this blunt. Don’t burn the pages. I’m not trying to overstep here, but just hold onto the writings for a while. I was in a similar boat… or you could still say I am. I still have my writings even though they are tucked in a cabinet and I rarely look at them. I wrote many of them before there were thumb drives, so I have the actual pages. I was an essayist.

At the least, put them on a thumb drive. Tuck it away in a drawer so you don’t have to look at pages, but I implore you not to do anything so permanent. I know you said even if you hide it you’ll know it exists, but it’s part of who you are and you just never know when some idea will pop up that you want to refer to, for whatever reason. 

I do understand how, not only frustrating it can be, but mournful in a way for what could be. And, again, if you honestly, truly think you’ll feel better by disposing of the stuff, then you must do what you must do. But my suggestion is to tuck it away. You can always toss it but you can’t get it back if it’s gone. You just never know. Good luck!

Best Regards,


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