What Do You Do With All Those Ideas?

6:00 AM

Ideas are everywhere.

They permeate the air. They flit about minds, from words people say that kick start something, from slogans or phrases, from pictures or pieces of art. They can come from a funny story someone tells, from a mistake someone makes when trying to say something but hey what if there actually was a school with only two people enrolled? 

Ideas are everywhere. But, sooner or later, the time will come to reach out and take hold of one of those ideas--one very special idea--and sit down with it. It'll take you months, years, to finish up that idea. And it's impossible to live those months and years without getting any new ideas.

Those story ideas ... we need them. They're the future of our works. If I didn't keep the ideas I get, my two WIPs wouldn't exist.

Story ideas can be quite a nuisance, however. Especially if you've been dutifully working on a project for a year or so, and even more so if you're getting tired of it. That shiny new idea that comes along can hardly be resisted.

So what do we do? we can't just shove them away completely. We want to make friends with our ideas so they'll like us when it comes their turn to be written. But we can't neglect our WIP...

We need to find a balance.

I don't know about you, but I used to feel a little guilty when I got a new idea. Especially if it was a super good one.

I guess I felt like I was "cheating" on my WIP? I don't really know. But I didn't want to give it too much love and attention because can't stop working on the WIP! 

But is that really the best approach?

If you've got this new idea, and you're getting tons of the pieces to the story ... if you just shove it all away so you don't forsake your WIP, what happens later? What happens when that WIP is done, and it's time to move on to a new story?

I've opened documents in my idea folder many times and found just one sentence. It seemed brilliant at the time, but since I only took the time to write down one sentence, I often completely forget where I was going with the idea.

So it's useless to me.

I've settled into a groove of things now, and it works fairly well for me. So allow me to share my method (which I've referred to several times) with you all.

I have a file on my computer. It's called, "She's an Author". There are currently 51 files labeled "Idea" in it. I like to number my ideas so I can look back later and see which ones I got first. (That's how I know I got the idea for my current WIP before my last WIP.)

I started doing something recently, too. I have "Character" files. If I get an idea for a really cool charrie but they have no story (that doesn't happen for me very often, but it does sometimes) I'll just give them their own file. (I only have 12 of those types of files right now)

Now, most of those 51 ideas are just a couple sentences long. I thought they were cool in the moment, and so I ran to my computer to write them down.

But there are few, 5-6ish, that tug at me often. Idea 5, 21, and 35 are my top three ideas. These are files that I open maybe once or twice a month to make notes in. These are ideas I think about.

These are ideas that are dangerous.

They tempt me to flutter away from my WIP. They're so cool and fun and new and exciting.

But you know what? Allowing myself to visit those idea folders, to make a map of the world and to write a character's backstory and to write down the vague plotline ... that keeps me going. It helps me write my current WIP when I don't feel like writing because I have more stories to tell. And that's exciting. I want to move on. (I reallyreallyreally want to write idea 35. It's this giant fairytale/epic poem mashup and it's a chaotic mess but IT'S A BEAUTIFUL CHAOTIC MESS AND I WANT TO WRITE IT NOW.)

It's tempting to shove that away, because UGH I JUST WANT TO WRITE IT. But if I shoved away all the ideas, I wouldn't have anything to look forward to.

So the conclusion? You don't have to organize ideas like I do. (I also keep a journal for various story ideas, since I like to handwrite stuff.) But I do encourage that you document your ideas somewhere, and you let yourself visit them every now and then. That will keep you excited for them, and keep you motivated to edit that WIP so you can move on to something new.

How do you organize your ideas? Do you have any stories you're dying to write?


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  1. This is such a cool tactic!! I'll have to try it!!

    1. I'm glad you like it! Let me know how it goes :)

  2. I actually have two notebooks (one that I keep in my bedroom and one that I keep in the living room because I'M NOT RUNNING HALFWAY ACROSS THE HOUSE WHEN THE PLOT BUNNIES ATTACK) that I'll scribble all my plot bunnies/ideas into. Normally it's a page per idea - I'll write down the title, aesthetic, what day I got the idea on, and sometimes one snippet that the plot bunny kindly gave me. Or I'll save them into documents on the computer, like you do xD. And also YOUR POST WAS MAKING ALL THE PLOT BUNNIES COME FLOCKING TO ME, SO. Now I have to go write them down. *scampers away* Thanks for this epic post, girl!

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

    1. AHHHAHAHA! That's such a great idea! I would, if not for the threat of little siblings snagging it and scribbling in it (which has happened before). But when I'm an adult ... :P And YAY FOR NEW IDEAS!

  3. Oooooohhhh I like your method! Most of the time I quickly scribble a paragraph or so in my notebook, but occasionally I'll make a Scrivener file and go crazy with brainstorming in it. :D (*whispers* I also have an idea that I would like to write sometime called "And I Speak".) I think I'll be stealing your method and seeing if it works for me! ;)

    1. Ooooh you use Scrivener?? *did not realize this* That's cool! How do you like it? Is it brainstorm/idea friendly?

  4. This is a neat idea! I keep a notebook with different ideas written in it, but I love the idea of numbering them on the computer.

    1. Yasss. It's so cool to look back and see what order you got them in :D

  5. Yay!! I'm not the only one! I usually just keep my ideas on a note in my iPhone (since I usually have that within easy access). But I love being able to re-read them, and maybe add more to the idea as time goes on. This way I'm able to focus on my WIP, but still slowly build up a new one on the side (without actually writing two at a time).

    But I haven't thought about individually filing them...hmmm...

    1. Ahh, yes, I make notes on my iPhone too! But before that, I had an LG-G3 Android and IT DELETED NOTES. I lost a lot of stuff, and I still am not sure why? So I don't trust phones anymore :P

  6. Thanks for the idea! I guess I'll put the future ideas in my new bullet journal (my current one might fill up pretty soon). Because I often just bat away new ideas (I know, I know) but now I'll just keep them.


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