I started this journey as a writer with a folder of story ideas. Well, snippets really. A short scene with a few words of dialogue. An interesting character or a fascinating setting. A treasure box of ideas needing to be fit into place like the pieces of a puzzle. (And we all know how frustrating it is to be missing a piece.)

Part of my writing journey is spent collecting ideas. Ideas to make a past manuscript stronger. Possibilities for a unique marketing approach. Ways to make things worse for the protagonist in my work-in-progress. Potential for sequels or a series. Topics for future blog posts or articles. Alliteration for a children’s story. Unexpected twists in a story line.

Ideas are the lumps of clay waiting to be molded into functional or artistic pieces. The rough stones to be cut and polished into sparkling gems. The colorful pile of beads to be assembed. And the pile of forgotten treasures buried in Grandma’s attic.

Where do I find them? Usually when I’m not looking. I get my best ideas while driving, vacuuming, brushing my teeth, showering, or weeding the garden. Anytime when my brain is on idle and the subconscious can finally be heard. I also get ideas by eavesdropping. And people watching or reading the newspaper.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try another method of idea-finding for the first time. My local writing group is getting together for a plotting party. I’m going to toss my storyline into the middle of the circle and ask them to help me brainstorm ways to raise the tension in the middle and unexpected twists for the ending. I should walk away with a pile of possibilities.

More importantly, how do I keep track of them? Mostly by writing fast on whatever surface is handy. I keep notebooks and pens in every room of my house, my purse, and my car. In a pinch, I’ve been known to write on sermon notes, junk mail, napkins and even my hand. I’ve heard of those who wrote on the bathroom mirror with an eyeliner pencil. Or wrote on the shower wall with a children’s bath crayon or grease pencil.

Other suggestions have been to carry a digital voice recorder while taking a walk or to leave a voice memo on the cell phone. I once tried to call home and leave it on my answering machine … but I forgot my brilliance by the time it finally picked up.

No matter the recording method, I eventually end up with a pile of paper scraps or post-its that need to be sorted. Some techie-type people type all their ideas and sort them into electronic folders. Personally, I like hard copies. I keep file folders for blog or article ideas and a folder for marketing. Clear page protectors work well as collection points in each manuscript’s notebook. Future setting, character, plot, and dialogue ideas have their own place in a binder.

What about you? Where do you find ideas? How do you keep track of them?

Ideas Are Everywhere
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2 thoughts on “Ideas Are Everywhere

  • May 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm
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    >Candee,

    I keep a journal for all kinds of ideas for blogging, to do or anything I don't want to forget. It stays in my purse and it's been a huge lifesaver instead of relying on my memory.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  • May 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm
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    >I wrote a manuscript three a couple years ago, but now, I only write the blog.

    With both, I used various methods, because as you said, you can be anywhere when an idea pops into your head.

    I've tried the tape recorder, but it's never convenient. Mostly, it's the scraps of paper that get rewritten into a composition note book or I also have a Microsoft Word file that I type into.

    Is there anyone out there who is completely organized. 🙂

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