Idea filing: what do I do with the ideas I can’t work on right now

If you are like me, you get a ton of ideas for new projects. Often, you get them while you are working on a new project. These new ideas are exciting and wonderful, and I feel like I need to do something to retain them.

Now, I’m no Sherlock, so I don’t have a Mind Palace. When I get an idea, its important that I record it, that I write it down somewhere to make sure that I don’t use it. I have two methods for this:

  1. I keep a notebook in my back pocket, and a pen in my breast pocket. All the time. The point is, to stop and write down an idea, whenever it strikes. I have, a few times, thought to myself that I would be able to wait, and that the idea would still be there later. But every time, I’ve been wrong. So I have to write down the idea when it strikes.
  2. I use a web app called Springpad to catalogue my ideas, and take notes. I like this app, because its on the web and has native apps available for smart phones, which allows me to have access to my Springpad account at all times, even when offline.  With Springpad, I can collect links that inspire ideas, and research.

SpringpadThe notebook is for quickly jotted notes. Details are for Springpad. I transfer ideas from the notebook to Springpad, for reference when I’m working. I like springpad because its easy to add a note from a link. I get ideas from articles online all the time, so its nice to be able to save the link in Springpad, and start taking notes on my ideas right, and as I find more links and get more ideas, I can continue to add notes and ideas, allowing me to collect and catalogue thoughts and ideas and to grow them into actual writing projects.

How do you catalogue your ideas?


Where do ideas come from?

I  sometimes get this question.  I am told that some writers hate this question, but I don’t mind it. I’ve always been enamoured of Neil Gaiman’s answer to this question:

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.

I love this. I get ideas all the time, and I write them down in a notebook as quickly as possible. I’ve learned from experience, that if I don’t, I will forget the idea.  I have had some amazing ideas in my time, and before I started carrying a notebook, I forgot them entirely because I didn’t write them down.

I get ideas from all kinds of things. I get ideas by listening. I hear a comment or a sentence spoken in passing, and I think “that’s interesting”. So I write it down. I follow interesting blogs on my RSS Feeds, and I sometimes get ideas from things I see there. I think its a good idea to follow interesting blogs. To follow tumblr blogs and pinterest feeds if the content is interesting. Anything interesting can be inspirational. But the most important thing is, an Neil Gaiman says, to be aware of when you’re having an idea.

Most everyone has great ideas. The trick is to do something with it.

Do you remember the last kick-ass idea you had? What did you do with it?

This persistent idea

I have this idea that gets stuck in my head and won’t go away. I think its a good idea, but I’m not sure how to make it work just yet.

The idea is this: a coworking space for writers. Now, I know that these sorts of things already exist, but we make this more of a co-op. Everyone buys in and shares the cost of the space. Since people are creative at different times, the space is available to its members whenever they need it. If they are more creative during the day, they can come and use the space then, or if they write best at night, they can do that. This appeals to me because I have, in the past, done my best writing (or at least my most prolific writing) in a room with other creative people.

The idea goes a little further. So we all have access to the space when we need it, but it would be possible to book the space for a special event. Having a book launch? Having a play reading? Book the space for a night, charge an entry fee and kick a small percentage back to the space. These would help cover incidental costs that might come up, like repairs or internet or coffee. Occasionally, we might have a party in the space, charge a cover and use that cover to go into a fund for the space.

These are just ideas I’ve been batting around in my brain. None of them are even a little doable at the moment, because getting something like this set up takes money and at the moment that’s something I just don’t have. But I feel like writing this down is a good way to help solidify the idea in my head so that sometime in the future I can make it happen.