Collecting Ideas

Ideas can come from anywhere. A piece of overheard conversation might make a perfect line of dialogue, or a story in the news can act as a springboard for a plot.

When an idea emerges it may only be a premise, an opening image, a starting point that may need more time before we begin working on it. And so we must remember these ideas to use them or build on them later. How does a writer keep track of them all?

I’ve always been a note-taker. I have notebooks upon notebooks filled with lists and notes. The trouble is keeping track of them all and remembering in which notebook I jotted a particular thought.

The modern version of the notebook is the app Evernote. Unlike my collection of notebooks, which I don’t have on me at all times, I always have my phone with me. I’ve started using this app and have created “Notes” for character names and story ideas.

There are more visual options for keeping ideas, like scrapbooks, collages, bulletin boards or virtual pinboards such as Pinterest. I have boards on Pinterest where I pin photos that inspire my characters and settings.

index-cardsAnne Lamott recommends index cards: “I fold an index card lengthwise in half, stick it in my back pocket along with a pen, and head out, knowing that if I have an idea, or see something lovely or strange or for any reason worth remembering, I will be able to jot down a couple of words to remind me of it.” I’ve used this method too, stashing index cards in my wallet or glove compartment.

I don’t have a singular, organized method for collecting and saving those moments of insight, but I’ll continue to use any method at my disposal to keep those potentially useful ideas from slipping away.

How do you collect your ideas?

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One thought on “Collecting Ideas

  1. I have a small notepad that I keep in my purse. But if I’m on my computer, I jot things down in an email to myself or in a Notepad document.

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