Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fabulous New Writing Tip

Where do you get your ideas?


Seriously, where?


This is one area of writing that I struggle with. A few ideas jump into my head perfectly formed, but most come to me in bits and drabs and need a lot of work.


I have had this issue plotting my new WIP.


I have great characters (my little opinion)



I have a perfect setting (it just changed, but I'm super happy with it now)



It's just the plot idea issue......

ugh.

I have finally worked it out and am really happy with the new plot line on my WIP, but it was a TON of work and I can't help wonder if there is an easier way.



IN COMES MY FUN NEW IDEA



I'm going to start keeping a 3 ring binder with:



different tabs - character, setting, plot, quirks



a bunch of clear sheet protectors in each tabbed section - so it will be easy to just slide a piece of paper or note or picture in each section.



Then, when I am reading the newspaper/magazines or surfing online or talking to a friend and an idea comes my way, I'll rip it out or jot it down and slide it into one of those pre-sectioned sheet protectors.



Hopefully, when it's time for my next novel...or the one after that...I can flip through a whole binder of newspaper clippings, computer print offs, pictures and personal notes


and come up with some fun ideas without pulling my hair out for weeks on end


I'm so excited about this new idea....I think it might really help me!


Question: how do you get/keep/organize your ideas? Are you blessed to have a never ending supply dancing around your mind? Do you ever struggle with this like I do? What do you think of my new idea binder?

***

33 comments:

MeganRebekah said...

I love the similar posts - I guess great minds really do think alike! (or is it crazy minds?)

I have more ideas than I know what to do with. They usually come from real life experiences, or just a sentence or phrase that makes me think. My latest idea came from an old TV sitcom. It wasn't the plot of the sitcom or anything, just a single sentence that made me start thinking about other things, then my imagination took it one step further and boom - there's the concept.

You're idea of a binder is excellent - it's the type of thing that I love but am so bad at actually using and following. I start off so organized and then lose it as I go.

Tess said...

MeganRebekah- Well, I guess you don't really need an idea binder if you don't have a problem getting ideas -- lucky duck!

I'll make myself follow through because I HATE going through the plotting process w/out enough ideas to pull from.

Jody Hedlund said...

I love the binder idea! Thanks for sharing it! I need to get better at people watching and looking for unique details. I have less of a problem with plot ideas than I do with the other things you mentioned!

Yunaleska said...

I have my muse. She's rather small, tends to sit on my shoulder. Likes to dig her heels in and yell really loudly. I'm fortunate to mostly have heaps of ideas. I don't write them down. They stay in my head :) I think that's why I'm so scatterbrained with everything else.

Suzanne said...

I have notebooks everywhere... and pens. I know this sounds crazy, but I do my best writing while I cook on Sunday mornings. Being Italian American, I cook a huge meal... and everyone leaves me alone... so I write all day. I keep notebooks in my car, in my bags, by my bed. Everywhere. My husband gets so mad! ;)Thanks Tess, now instead of little notebooks everywhere I am going to have to have binders everywhere! I will send him your way....:) GREAT IDEA!

Tess said...

Jody - maybe our two minds put together make one perfect writer, eh? lol.

Yunaleska - that image is adorable! If you ever get tired of her, would you send her to my place???

Suzanne - yum! I could almost smell the aromas of your kitchen while reading your comment. It is a great image of you cooking away and jotting notes in little notebooks while you are making the perfect marinara. Your lucky family!

lotusgirl said...

I have a notebook where I write down ideas when they come to me. I should put them in a binder though. That's a great idea.

Liana Brooks said...

Come up with new ideas? How do you stop ideas?

I get mugged by new plots turning corners, reading, cooking, watching the kids play.

My organization goes as far as scribbling down notes for an idea and stuffing them in a folder on the computer. If I ever lose my memory I will have serious issues with this kind of organization, but it works for now.

Corey Schwartz said...

Tess, don't feel bad. I NEVER get ideas! It may sound like I am being facetious, but it is totally true. I get like one idea per year and it is almost never at all developed. It's just a vague kernel of an idea. I am so jealous of you idea people.

Lisa and Laura said...

Umm...LOVE this idea. And I'm totally stealing it. Just so you know.

Danyelle said...

I am completely jealous of how lovely and organized your idea is! I love being organized, but my writerly part doesn't do oragnized in the conventional sense of the word. :)

I don't get ideas for stories, my characters (some of whom I've never before met) jump me when I'm not looking. I'm really just a pair of hands that knows how to type. >.<

Tess said...

lotusgirl - I have some bits here and there too, but they always seem to get lost. I'm hoping a binder w/ sheet protectors will help my chaos!

Liana - If I didn't like you so much, I'd be mad. JK. I hope you recognize your gift, though. Not everyone has it so nice :)

Corey - thank you! that really helps. we end up at the same place as the others...we just have to work a little harder in the plot line arena to get there.

Lisa and Laura - steal away, friends! steal away!

Danyelle - the image of you being just a pair of typing hands is funny :D I sometimes get characters really strong like that...it's just figuring out what they do that gives me trouble.

Lady Glamis said...

Your binder idea is BRILLIANT. I don't have an endless store of ideas, sadly. And I never write down the fleeting ones in my head. So this would work great for me except that I'm too busy and stressed over Monarch to even think about it.

Tess said...

Glam - just think, this will take AWAY the stress. You don't have to do anything but rip out the cute article or print out the old timey story and slide it into a protector sleeve. But, I do want to say I'm sorry you are feeling stressed. Don't forget how talented you are and how great things are accomplished one tiny step at a time.

Cindy said...

That's a great idea for writing down your ideas. It really, really does help. I have something similar with tabs. I put plots and outlines in there as well as bits and pieces I've already written and character sketches. I have soooo many, though, and sometimes try to ignore new ideas when they come to me. I figured out that if I write three books a year, it would take me ten years to write all the books I have ideas for. Sorry if it sounds like I'm complaining--I'm not! I'd rather have too many ideas than not enough.

Liana Brooks said...

Tess- if you ever need to borrow and idea, just let me know what genre. I have so many orphaned stories waiting for me to come home from a mugging it isn't funny anymore.

At this rate, at a book a year, I'll live to well over 100. And only if I *stop* coming up with ideas and the characters don't beg for sequels.

Sometimes it's not such a nice thing. I can't devote every hour to writing, even if I want to. And I get frustrated because there isn't enough time to put all those stories on a page. I want to read them... now I just have to write them >.<

Lisa said...

I guess I'm an idea person and didn't even know it. I have far more ideas than time to write.

But I do often get to a point in a story where I don't know what should happen next. Then I cajole my husband, friend, sister, grocery clerk to let me bounce ideas off them. Basically, I talk out the story. Sometimes they make suggestions and sometimes I find new insight just from verbalizing it.

The thing that never fails me in coming up with plot ideas is...writing. Just sit down and write. Do it with a pen. Start writing and don't stop. Start with a character or setting or object or anything and see where it goes. Eventually, something interesting is bound to come up.

Tess said...

Cindy - that's good to know, now I'm even more determined to give it a try.

Liana - where were you over the past few months??? I'm good for now..this WIP will keep me busy for the next year or two most likely...but I may take you up on that super generous offer in the future. I write Middle Grade...historical or contemporary.

Lisa - yes...it does help if I write it out, but I have often gotten to page 50 and thought, "where is this going?" and not have a clue. For me, I have to start w/ some basic skeleton outline or I ramble and make up really wierd stuff. Count your blessings, girl!

Martin Willoughby said...

That's a great idea.

I have an A5 notebook that I write things in, and a collection of A4 paper with other snippets. I've also got a book of stuff from my writers group.

Now, if only I referred to them more often.

Jill Kemerer said...

I have an idea journal to jot down any inspiration which comes my way. I also subscribe to several magazines and I clip out anything that catches my eye and I store the clippings in binders.

Because of this, I never run out of ideas. Something is always prodding the snippets in my head. What could be better than that?? I think you'll love your new binder!

Jill Kemerer said...

I was just over at Wendy's blog and noticed you were interested in my bully article. E-mail me at jrkemer@charter.net if you would like me to send it to you. I'm always happy to share! It helped my eleven year old feel powerful.

Tess said...

Martin and Jill - sounds like you guys already figured this out. It's great to hear that it helps...thanks!

Jill...yes, very interested. I'll e mail you...

ElanaJ said...

Love the binder idea. BUT, for me it would be getting the binder ready that I would love. I don't actually think I would use it.

I carry a 6 x 9-inch notebook in my purse. When I see something I personally find fascinating (like at the park the other day there was this guy and he was wearing his pants really low, you know? But he was wearing tighty-whities, not boxers. Very odd. Went in the notebook.) I write it down.

I have songs, cool titles, character quirks, whatever in the notebook. Then when I need something or I'm feeling less than inspired, I flip through the notebook to see if I can coax the muse out of the closet.

But I like the binder idea. I really do. :)

Davin Malasarn said...

Tess, first and most importantly, I think your binder idea is great! :) I usually don't bother to record any of my ideas unless they are for one of the current stories I'm working on. A message that I convinced myself of about three years ago was that I'm never going to run out of ideas. Whenever I think something is clever, I give myself the freedom to forget about it, because new clever ideas will come when I need them. Whether that's true or not, it loosens me up so that I rarely feel like I have to try too hard to inspire myself.

Diana said...

Hi, Tess!
I really like the organization of the binder idea. I tried something similar--I have one of those file "boxes" (that could pass for a purse) for my WIP. On the inside tabs, I wrote: characters, plot scenes, dialogue ideas, settings (including maps), research, and marketing. But my horrible problem is that since it's not in-my-face, I forget about it. I have this need to SEE everything (hence my house is always strewn with the bits and pieces of ideas that make up my WIP). But your idea - with the SEE-THROUGH sheet protectors - might be an answer to my clutter problem.:)Thanks!

Since the Voice workshop, I've found another strategy that satifies my "visual" side, and is a good idea booster too. Take a big piece of paper (like newsprint -- 32" x 27") and in the center, in a circle, write "My Childhood Homeland." Then start remembering and writing down (in offshoots from the circle)things from your childhood (you can doodle in pictures too): events, places, conversations, friends, anything (Turn OFF you inner critic and have fun). Where did you live? on a hill? in the city? Did you walk to school? Did you play dress-up? What did you wear? What did you do in the summer? How did the sand feel between your toes? What was on the picnic table? Where did you find the Easter eggs? What did your friend say that day that stuck with you for the rest of your life? What did Christmas smell like? What happenend in highschool? Pretty soon you'll start remembering so MANY things, it'll be almost impossible to stop! Then sit back and take a good look at what you did. Bet you'll find a lot of ideas that'll lead to a story or can somehow be incorporated into your WIP - like how your mc might react to a rubber snake that turned out to be real (that really happenend to me!! blah!). So maybe one day, one of my characters might have a similar experience...or might be mischievous enough to set up a prank like that.

Anyway, sorry, I always seem to write enormous posts...But I hope you have fun with the project above...and that it works to draw out some things you had long forgotten. Mine's pinned to the wall waiting to be put into a story or two...or three...or....

Crystal said...

I LOVE that idea, Tess! I can think of titles (and characters and setting) easily, but it's harder for me to think up plots. Yes, I think I'm going to steal your "idea," Tess, and get a binger going! Hope you don't mind! :)

And I like Diana's strategy, also, of writing down things from your childhood . . . That may just help me with an idea I have for a chapter book!

Thanks for this post, Tess! I always find something interesting here to ponder or put into practice when I visit your blog. :)

Belle said...

I love your binder idea - the thought of being organized about all the things that capture my imagination really really appeals to me. I tend to get ideas just breathing, and normally don't write most of them down, just keeping the biggies in my mind where they sometimes grow on their own. But it's funny, just yesterday I needed a notebook for the current writing project, opened it up, and found these ideas I must have jotted down from a dream. I don't remember any of it! So now I'm starting to think, I really should keep these ideas on paper somewhere ...

B.J. Anderson said...

That IS an awesome idea! And I'm totally going to use it because right now I have sticky notes and slips of paper floating all over my house. It makes me look like a nut-case. Thanks for the awesome idea!!

Tess said...

Elana and Davin: thanks for sharing your thoughts...it's so interesting and fun for me to learn how other people get and organize their ideas.

Diana - great idea! I love it and think it will be fun to do. And, don't stress on the long comments...they make my day :)

Crystal - steal away! that's the best part of blogging...getting ideas and learning from each other.

Belle - hello! what an interesting story about your 'forgotten dream' notes. that is exactly my point! I have ideas but they tend to leave me as fast as they come :)

BJ - I'm hoping it will tame my post it clutter as well.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

I posted about this when I first started blogging. I actually have a file folder that I stuff things in. I always carry a tablet in my purse and when I get home I jam it in my folder but I have found this really cool thing I downloaded for free, its called stickies. What it is, is a bunch of stickie notes on your computer screen just not the paper ones. It looks just like the paper ones but you can show/hide, save/close, change the color, whatever. They are so cool, its where I jot down most ideas. Here is the website. I have been using this program for 4 months with no problems.
http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies/index.html

Tess said...

Wow, very cool stuff Sherry -- thanks for the wonderful tip. I will check it out :)

Shelli said...

i dont think im that organized - I make a document /folder and save links to research so when I pull up the doc - its all there.

L.T. Elliot said...

My ideas come from about anywhere. I keep a notebook handy to try and get the gist of them down and then I either keep them in the notebook or transfer them to an excel worksheet. Yeah, I'm nerdy with the worksheets.