September 21, 2009

Collecting Ideas or the Art of Avoiding Writer's Block

Dear Readers,

Over the past few years (I’m thinking 3 or 4, I know, it hasn’t been that long for me to forget but I have a faulty memory) I’ve been constantly keeping a notebook on me (preferred size: compact) just in case. . .

Just in case I ever come up with cool ideas for the current story I’m working on, or for future stories. It doesn’t matter.

I have learned that it’s a great way for me to keep track of everything. Yes, especially since I have a bad memory (oh, I already said that) and so KNOW I’m going to forget about 95% of the cool stories I come up with (or ideas for stories anyway).

And it really works! First of all, don’t ever be scared to jot down any idea, however stupid it may sound, that comes to you. Seriously, I get ideas doing just about ANYTHING! A lot of times, it’s not when I’m thinking about writing that I come up with really cool stories :) (Ok, not sure if they’d be cool to you, but they are to ME, which is what matters--after all, what’s the point of writing a story if you yourself don’t enjoy it?).

For instance, the other day a friend of mine was making fun of me for. . . well, really it’s too embarrassing to let you know but those involved will know what I’m talking about (and please, PLEASE don’t put any incriminating names in the comments section!). But yes, she was making fun of me and, lo and behold, it spawned this (what I believe to be) amazing storyline which I’ll develop into a movie script beginning November.

But it didn’t all come out at once. I got the basic, very crude lines in through that personal jab (and no, I’m not offended in the least, since I know how ridiculous I was too, still am in fact, so the teasing was TOTALLY deserved--AKA: no hard feelings ^^). Wrote those down in my preciousssss little notebook (no. 2) and a few days later, as I was explaining my super-awesome-I’m-so-excited-about idea to some other friends, I came up with more ideas, which I jotted down.

Because you see, even though your brain might not be working on the story all the time (or in my case might not be working, period), your brain subconsciously still works on it (assuming the story’s of interest to you) and you’ll come up with GREAT ideas at the strangest of times! (And yes, they can come at very inopportune times too, like when you’re out surfing, in which case I recommend waterproofing your notebook)

And this way, I’m never afraid to forget about a fun story, AND, guess what? (No, not “what,” you’re actually supposed to guess something!) Well, this has allowed me to come up with lots of ideas for tons of different stories (can they actually be weighed, or should I say “loads” instead? Ah, semantics. . .) which means that whenever I’m done with a story (which is coming up soon--end of October, I’m SO excited!), I know I won’t have a problem to start on another story right after. Rather, the problem might be you won’t be able to choose which story to work on first! Seriously!

You see, by keeping notes of all your ideas (and you can jump from one idea to another and back again as your imagination works out more plot ideas and twists), you’ll also be creating a way to avoid writer's block :)

So, where do you get ideas for stories?

--The Writing Apprentice

writer's block

PS: I have been notified that notebooks can be lost. Which is true, like everything else. Recommendation? GPS tracking device. Which could prove a little cumbersome when you have over 10 such journals, but hey. Better than nothing, right?


  1. I sometimes use a voice recorder, more practical when driving.

  2. Alessa, you're holding out the good part! All this talk about your notebooks but no mention at all about what's in them. Come on, share, just even some of your b-grade material... purty puleeaassee?

  3. Hmmm... Actually, I was thinking about potentially starting a story, based on Greek mythology, where I'd post a chapter a month. It would be sort of comedic, but also have adventure, romance, etc. Just for you! :)

    What do you think? And should I make a poll to see how popular this idea is? Or unpopular... Wonder how good that would do me with the current (ie low) traffic on this blog^^

  4. And Anonymous, I have a digital recorder too, but I find I have a tendency to space out in the middle of my sentences when I speak, so it's better for me to write things down. Though I suppose if I were driving, the recorder would be infinitely more practical! :)

  5. Most of my great ideas happen when I shower. Given that I only spend a maximum of 15 minutes per day doing so (1% of my day), it must be that there's something about showering that gives me great ideas. Could it be water? After all, 90% of our body is made of water. Could it be time alone? There are fewer distractions during a shower than during the normal course of the day. Or could it be due to relaxation? Relaxation allows the mind to think more creatively and with fewer constrictions.

  6. Hmmmm.... gotfrank, I believe it could be a combination of all of those factors. Maybe you're a very active person, and you juggle so many different projects that you don't even give your brain a sliver of time to think about other things than your task at hand. Until you hop in the shower, that is.
    But have you ever noticed how sometimes the most brilliant solutions spring at you when you lease expect them to? Or at least that's what happens to me. I love those moments :)

  7. Funny, I was catching up on posts by people I follow when I fell on this one post that talks exactly of what we're discussing here (coincidence?):

    Check it out!