Writers are inspired with stories and scenes almost everywhere we go. Coffee shops. Business meetings. The checkout line at the grocery store. These ideas may or may not pertain to what we are currently writing, but they are great ideas. Many great ideas. How do we keep track of them?
Some writers keep a journal. Others, Anne Lamott for example, use index cards. Others use folders. Most often, I use my phone. Why?
- I almost always have it with me.
- If I don’t have time to write down what I’m seeing or thinking, I can take a picture and use that later to get my thoughts written down.
- It is easy to send myself an email of a great quote I might want to use. For example, in the library checkout line I heard a child say to his mother, “Mommy, if I read all these books, do I still have to go to Kindergarten?” I don’t know when or if I will ever use this, but I sent it to myself while I waited.
The next time I begin to write, I take care of all these things I’ve sent myself by putting them in my Ideas folder on my laptop. Within that file, I have a folder for photos, quotes (with sub-folders for kid’s quotes, political quotes, etc.), scenes, character sketches, and more. When writing and I vaguely remember a quote I want to use, I can somewhat easily find it in one of my folders.
These ideas become gold nuggets that I can use when I am experiencing writer’s block or when I just need some inspiration.
How do you keep track of your ideas? What methods do you use? Leave a comment with your own great ideas or tell our community of writers how you use your ideas to inspire your work.
Go out and about. Try one of the following ideas:
- Find a nice scene, sit down and write a detailed description of it.
- Get a cappuccino, sit down, and write a character sketch of the most interesting person you see. Add details you can only guess at. For example, their lean body may make you add that they are anorexic or a jogger.
- Read the newspaper and cut out and keep a story that you think would make a good subject for a book or essay or blog post.
- Observe. Jot down what you see.
Think of a place you have been or something you just put into your ideas bin. Write it out in detail.
- What do you hear? (a dripping faucet, the wind in the trees, a dog barking in the distance?)
- What do you smell? (coffee brewing, body odor, the musky smell of an elk?)
- What do you feel? (a cold breeze on your face, rain drops on your bare legs?)
- What do you taste? (sweet tea, bitter martini, potato salad?)
- Go into detail about what you see. For example, not just dirt, but a dirt road filled with tire tracks going in all directions.
Leave a comment on what surprised you most in this activity.
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