Ideas: Where do you keep yours?

I’m an organized writer that lives in an organized mess. Everything has a place, though I’m sure that anyone looking at my desk would disagree with me on that. My wonderful hubby is just such a person. ūüėÄ

He also doesn’t understand my propensity to collect story ideas. Every time I turn around I’m coming up with new ones. They pop up when I watch TV, movies, listen to music, read books, write books, when I dream, when I watch my kids play, and from life itself.

There is no storage of ideas, and I’m sure there are many who would agree with me. Ideas are not the problems. Storing them might be the problem for some of you. I know that my mother was forever washing my story idea books and the random scraps of paper in my pockets.

At one point I started an Idea Box. Everyday, every scrap of paper I wrote a story idea on ended up in that box. Every so often I went through that box and threw away papers that didn’t make sense or grouped together papers that seemed related. The Ideas soon outgrew their Box.

I tried keeping them in a computer, file that I¬†brilliantly named my Idea Bank (LOL Okay, so it’s not so brilliant but give me a break I was 16-years-old and thought it was cool),¬† but I want easy access to them and didn’t want to turn on the computer every time I wanted to look through my PC folder of ideas. The Box and Computer storage Quickly morphed into an overflowing 3-inch 3 ring binder with pocketed series dividers. Do they make folders bigger than 3-inches? Maybe I’ll have to move it to a file box next, or just trim it down to fit in the 3-inch 3 ring binder.

Either way, I’d like to open the comments up to you guys. Where do you keep your ideas? Do you have an idea notebook, box, or computer file? Do you write them in a journal? How many of you keep it in your head¬†and¬†play it by ear when it comes time to write your next novel? Or what do you do to come up with new ideas?

Ideas: How to use them?

The biggest stumbling block I notice when I taught High School Students Creative Writing, wasn’t getting ideas, but how to utilize the ideas they got. Which ideas should they use in the story? Which ideas should they discard? How do they use the idea in the first place?

Writers never seem to have a storage of ideas and brainstorming is the easiest way to expand an idea. I like the What if Game because anything and everything can spark a “what if?” What if JFK hadn’t died? What if Hitler had finished his campaign of world domination? What if mythical creatures were real? What if he had met her on the street corner instead of the cafe, who they be together still? What if, what if, what if? The list is endless.

I always told my students to take their ideas and write as much as they could about them. Brainstorm about the characters, where the story would start, where the story was going to end, and what would happen along the way? They could throw around ideas about the main goal of the characters? Why those characters there?

Every writing method is different and for some this is the time to start writing. Others have to plan out every detail of the story before they write. And then there is me. I decide what to keep and what to chuck, then I write a summary before heading out into the story. I don’t need all the details of A to B to C to D, but I need enough to know what direction to head.

My last piece of advice to them was to keep in mind that their rough draft would be flawed and that was okay. That this first draft was for them and no one else. That if they aren’t inspired to write point D, they could skip to point X if they wanted. That while exploring the boundaries of the book, if you insert an idea you didn’t plan on, this isn’t a bad thing, it might just be inspired, but wait until the editing stage to worry about it.

The Idea Book, Box, or Computer File

Since I finished the¬†revisions to my current novel, I decide to¬†take a look through my idea notebook so¬†I could start plotting out my¬†next novel after the one I’m writing. Confused yet. I am.

Anyways, out of curiosity, I wondering how many of you authors have an idea notebook, box, or computer file? How many of you keep it in your head and play it by ear when it comes time to write your next novel? Or what do you do to come up with new ideas?