I was talking to a writer friend of mine recently and one of the many subjects we touched on was what happens when a writer talks about his/her work in progress.
Writers love to talk about their work. It's only natural, apart from the world, clacking away on a keyboard for hours on end makes us jumpy, chatty, a little nutso when we get out among people (or is it just me?), but there are very good reasons why you shouldn't talk about your the novel you're currently working on, and not one of them is the reason you're probably thinking.
You don't really know what you're talking about. A novel is a long process, and while the general subject matter might not change over the course of writing "Chapter 1" and "The End" the content will shift remarkably. Plan all you like (and I'm a planner), but the end product will be something different from what you started out to write.
You're boring people. Your flat out excitement about the minute details of your character's existential journey is non-transferable. No one cares about your characters. Why? Because they can't read the book yet. Don't ask your friends to get worked up about something they don't understand, can't envision, and aren't able to read because it's not written. Naughty, naughty.
You're wasting your creative energy. When the eddy of ideas swirl, and you're dying to tell someone all about it, you need to sit down and write instead. If you blab all the goodie details of your latest and greatest idea, that's where the energy flows--out your mouth, into someone's ear and goodbye. When you try to sit down later and recapture the perfectness of that moment, it will elude you.
Think of it this way. Creative energy runs in unreliable pipes. It pours out into you whenever it feels like it, and runs dry the rest of the time. When you stand under its flow, you want to be certain to direct that energy into your work. If you talk about your work to someone else, you mis-direct that energy into a place that does your work no good. You're wasting that energy because (see above) it's non-transferable.
And you thought I was going to say that you shouldn't talk about your work because someone might steal your idea. Nah. Truthfully, someone has already written a book about what you're writing a book about. But not the way you write it.
Carpe Annum by saving your creative energy for your work. Pour it into the pages and no where else. Future readers will thank you.
Siphoned your energy into the wrong places? Share your cautionary tale with us. Harnessed that fickle flow right onto the page? Share your victory dance so we can dance with you.