New freelance writers always worry whether someone will steal their ideas.
Whenever the question of how to protect against idea theft comes up in a class or a workshop, I always say some variation of this:
So what if someone steals your idea. If you couldn’t execute it better than anyone else, someone else should write it. And if you are really the best person to write it, you’ll still be able to write it. That’s why I loved this description (from The New York Times, Tuesday, April 3) of surgeon/author Atul Gawande’s sharing a bunch of his ideas for future writings with a reporter:
Pulling out his Blackberry, he said, “It seems like there’s a story in every nook and cranny of medicine,” and scrolling down a list of 106 ideas he’d saved, he picked a few. “Itching,” he said. “Nobody really understands what it is. Chernobyl. Twenty years on, what really happened there? Why weren’t there as many cancer case as once predicted? And here’s a good one: why, if we have so many health-policy experts in this country, do we have such bad health policy?”
Btw, I tried to interview Gawande for my book. He politely declined, saying that his slashes were just keeping him too busy.