There are times in every writer’s life when ideas will come flooding in — but not for the story you’re working on. You don’t want to forget those little gems because they would be great in another story, yet they’re useless for what you’re doing right now. So what do you do?
Something I learned a long time ago was to keep an idea file. Ideas come in many forms from quotes we’ve read to pictures we’ve seen to that fabulous new movie we just saw (if you have the time ). Whatever the form, it’s best to capture the idea as soon as possible.
For certain items, such as magazine articles, it’s easy enough to rip them out and file them away. For others we have to get a bit more creative. An example would be a wonderful painting from a museum. It’s considered a crime to grab the painting and run (and I’m pretty sure trying to explain it away as “needing it for my idea file” wouldn’t get you very far). Thus we must get creative. You may be able to photograph it or, barring that, perhaps sketch it. If you’re art skills don’t go beyond stick men, then maybe you could write a description of it.
One nifty little tool I’ve discovered is Evernote. If you’ve got a smart phone, this application can be very useful. Snap a picture of whatever sparked your story idea, then share it to your Evernote with notes, tags, whatever. Your ideas are readily available to you via the web on any smartphone (with the downloaded app) or computer.
Regardless of how you get the inspirational item into your idea file, remember to write down the idea that was inspired and attach it. Sticky notes work great for hard copies (though the sticky does eventually wear off so be aware that your ideas may go wandering in your file).
Writing takes ideas. Being an Independent Author means being creative in every area of your career. And so, that’s why it’s important to collect the little gems that inspire you along.
What other creative solutions have you found to capturing story ideas?