I have heard of a species of writer that keeps only one idea in mind at a time. They live and breathe this one idea, allowing it to consume their minds and all of their spare time. But what does this writer do when the idea is finished? When the manuscript is done? When they need a break, or it is time to move on? I suppose they must be stuck waiting for the next all-consuming idea to come along.

This concept is terrifying to me. If I were this type of writer, I’d be petrified that the idea I have run away with isn’t any good, and I’ll have wasted this burning energy and precious time.

So what do you do if you are another type of writer, who likes to have a few things going at once to refresh the brain, or to jump into once the draft of another project is complete?

I suppose you keep lists of ideas. I’d love to hear how other writers keep track of book or story ideas, so be sure to let me know any tips and tricks that are different from my simple list.

  • Back page of a notebook – If an idea strikes while pen is in hand, I jot it down on the last page in my notebook. That way any ideas are together in one place and easy to find.
  • Pocket folder – I keep loose notes, printed pages, or research for current stories in a simple two-pocket folder.
  • Word document – I keep an idea file in Google Drive, where I paste prompts, quotes, or links to articles that spark an idea. I try to write a few sentences about what the idea was… if I don’t I often can’t remember why I saved a certain thing.

In addition to this, I almost always have multiple projects going at once. Usually one of them takes precedence, and I spend the majority of my time and effort on that, but sometimes if I am stuck it helps to take a break and work on something else. The nice part about this system is that when I finish the main project, I don’t have to face the daunting task of starting something new from scratch. Instead, I can dabble in the projects that are already started until I figure out which one is going to take over.

I’d love to hear your solutions for the idea storing process!

The Care and Keeping of Ideas
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