It's not for nothing that current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat prefers not to tell anyone about his ideas until he's writing them - the reactions of others, even if it's a qualified enthusiasm, can blow some of the magic dust away. "It's so important," he told me in an interview for Doctor Who Magazine in 2008, "the magic of Not Telling Anyone Yet. I know Russell [T Davies] thinks that way too – he won’t tell anybody what he’s doing. Because it turns to ashes in your mouth. It almost becomes ordinary.”And this is where we differ. I love telling my stories to anyone daft enough to listen. I don't do it the moment a story idea pops into my head, I let it fester there for a while. But once I've got the tale by the tiger, I start talking about it. The root of all writing is storytelling after all, seeking to entertain and make sense of our lives.
Talking a story out loud helps me find new corners and surprises, gets me thinking on my feet, forces me to find the best way of communicating my story to an audience. If I'm excited about a story, I want to share it. And there's nothing like the instant feedback of somebody smiling or nodding or going "oooh!" at the appropriate moment. You're on to something.
So give yourselves time to think and ponder, your stories room to deepen and develop. But don't be afraid of telling your stories out loud. That's what writers do. If your idea's so fragile it can't be told yet, maybe it isn't strong enough to sustain a story. I guess it's about choosing the moment your story's ready to be told. Onwards!