Here’s An Idea . . .


Last night my good guy surprised me with a wonderful dinner out.  If you like french food and live in the Denver area, I’d recommend trying La Merise in Cherry Creek.  Prices are way too high, and the meal takes forever and a day to put in front of you, but the food is well worth it.

Anyway, on the drive home, and after a glass or two of wine, we got to talking about books. My guy said he’s probably read six books this month alone.  Six books! How great is that? He works a full-time job, writes on Facebook, stays up with politics and sports, ballroom dances, yet still makes time to read voraciously. Wow.

photo of books about ideas and more

Getting and organizing ideas.

I had to admit I haven’t completed any. Yes, I’m in the middle of Harold Robbins’ The Predators, but I’m also reading High Probability Selling by Jacques Werth and Nicholas E. Ruben as part of my consulting work, still dipping into Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and have just started to dive into a fun read called Where Do You Get Your Ideas? by Fred White.  Guess I like my reading the way others like eating tapas–a small bite at a time.  You could call this reading style either Attention Deficit Disorder run wild, or you could be kind, and say I have eclectic reading tastes.  I prefer the latter, thank you.

But I want to share with you the concept of capturing ideas for writing from Where Do You Get Your Ideas?  I’ve seen whole books on the subject of organizing story ideas before, and I have to admit that Mr. White’s proposed binder with wandering spiral is intriguing.  He even goes so far as to recommend different colored paper to capture notes in different ways.  This kind of system has always appealed to me in the past.  The challenges come for me in the process of maintaining an idea file or notebook.  Here’s why:

  • Jotting ideas down, to me, needs to be a regular habit.  If I were to wait until I was inspired, I wouldn’t have any published work yet. And just carrying around a pocket notebook isn’t a guarantee of anything more than having a scratch pad for the grocery list you need for tonight’s dinner.  But, I have to admit, I keep that notebook handy–just in case.
  • The binder Mr. White recommends should hold about 400 pages. Whew! I could fill that up, but given my clumsiness, I could see me accidentally dropping the book and all those pages flying around the room.  Then the dog would get excited and start chasing them, while the cat would screech and run off to a hiding spot.  And with my luck, just at that moment, there would be a fire alarm with “abandon the house!” orders . . .  okay. Imaginative moment. Sorry.
  • I have kept idea files, drawers, boxes, etc. before. Can’t seem to find them when I need them.  And to be honest, on that rare occasion when I come across them on a lazy afternoon of “there’s nothing to do, so let me look through all my junk,” most of the ideas are pretty lame.  I don’t pitch them, because you never know.  To me, I suspect that ideas have a shelf life of maybe a few months.

I’ve seen the concept of capturing ideas often. I have several spirals with scraps and starts. But one more notebook seems to me to be that last straw.  So here’s what I plan to do:

  1. Keep that wandering pocket notebook.  I bought a purse with a big pocket just for that purpose.
  2. Buy a one subject spiral with about 100 sheets of paper.  This is where I’ll jot notes from reading, story starts, character sketches, and all bits of creative writing.
  3. Once a notebook is filled, I’ll set aside an afternoon (or day or week) and type up the best exercises, lists, story ideas etc.  These documents will be filed . . . on my computer.  Then I can either pitch or store (yes, I can feel my mother cringing–NO STORING JUNK!) the old spiral and treat myself to a new one.
  4. I like to sketch ideas too, so I’ll need to become skilled at scanning documents, but this isn’t a rocket science skill so that shouldn’t be a problem.

How about you? How do you capture your great ideas? How do you get rid of old spiral friends? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a creative week, my friend.

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