Monday 12 July 2021

Organising Your Ideas - The Creative Process


One thing about being a writer that seems to universal across genres, categories and paths, is that we have a whole ton of ideas. We get them all the time, we can't seem to stop them from hitting us in the face and going from there, and part of being a writer is learning how to organise those ideas from start to finish. After all, some writers can juggle several at once (I'm kinda one of those) but others need to focus on just the one and go from there.

So how do we do that? How do we decide which ideas come first and beyond that, how do we make sure that all those plot bunnies and ideas don't get lost in our minds, or on bits of paper tucked away everywhere? I have some of the answers for you, but of course everyone has their own way of cataloguing and storing these things so if you have your own idea, lemme know in the comments below.

In this case, I'm talking about files on the computer/cloud is better than say a notebook kept somewhere. For me it's also an access issue in that I can't grip a pen for long enough these days to actually write something down regularly. I can type easily, and there's also the fact that notebooks can be lost or destroyed and the cloud is less likely to do this to you. It can happen where something goes wrong, but it's not commonplace.

So for that reason, I suggest having some kind of file with everything typed out idea wise, than storing it offline. I'm one of those writers who backs up everything at least three places, usually four or five, and I've not lost ideas yet. Before I did this, I'd write things down, and then forget about it, lose the notebook or never go looking back at it because the idea had left my head. It's frustrating to think of how many book ideas I've probably lost because of that.

Now though I have a file on my computer, and elsewhere, that stores all the ideas in organised blocks. I can write down, and thought dump, any plot ideas and all the rest, characters, location etc, and come back to it when I'm on the hunt for a new book to write, and pick and choose what suits me at that time.


Depending on how you chose to store them, you might find this easier than not. I use a notepad file so things aren't super organised, but I make sure that I have the heading for the book/idea itself, and then all the thoughts I've had about it come after, before a break and the next idea starts. If the idea is for multiple books, as in a series, I list them in order.

This way I can see at a glance which ideas have been really fleshed out and which ones are just random stray thoughts that I've not had much time to work on. This plays a part in choosing what to write next because it allows me to know which ideas have made me excited and passionate, and could therefore be easier to write without the risk of getting stuck or losing interest.

That said, in all the time I've been organising ideas, I've not actually dropped a project yet. There are some that have had bumps in the road, but they haven't gotten to the point where I just can't keep going with them, so maybe something is working for me, or maybe it's just the way I approach writing that helps.

I think this seems obvious, but like I said above, I used to use a notebook and just forget about it. Now that I do it on the computer, I'll open the file up every so often and thought dump some more, as well as record any new ideas that have come in. I'm someone who'll have a great idea at 2am, think I'll remember it, and more often than not, it's gone by morning. So I've gotten into the habit of writing down ideas when they come to me, if at all possible.

Now I'm not always at my computer, but because it's all in the cloud, I can access it from my ipad, or phone, and add to it wherever I am. This is another reason that for me, it's a good idea to go digital and back everything up. I can add bits and pieces when an idea hits, and I don't have to worry too much about forgetting something before I can get to write it down.

So there we go, those are my three tips for organising your ideas. If you have any, lemme know in the comments below!

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