Not a Journal
Keeping a journal? Feh. This blog is about as close as I get. I know there are lots of writers who are into setting down their observations, thoughts, feelings and grocery lists in journals, and that’s okay, whatever scuffs your linoleum, but to me a journal is something for which you write all the entries the night before you’re supposed to hand them in to the professor.
But there are some things I like to keep track of. Actually, a lot of things, since my personality combines an attention deficit with a love of organization. If I don’t stay organized, my head tends to explode from the pressure of a thousand different priorities, each one angling for the number one spot in my mental parade.
So it is with writing. It’s important, I think, to save your writing notions in a list somewhere; otherwise, they’re going to get lost. You may wind up saving a lot of stuff that’s fit only for the compost heap, but you’re likely to save a few gems here and there, and those make the whole thing worth it. You may also find instances where two or more lame ideas, when combined, make something great.
I have two writing-related lists I add to from time to time. One is “Novel Ideas” and the other is “Swipe List.”
The first is obvious enough. Whenever an idea pops into my head for a whole novel, or part of a novel, I open up the list and stick it in there. Here
The first is obvious enough. Whenever an idea pops into my head for a whole novel, or part of a novel, I open up the list and stick it in there. Here are a couple:
Character forced to leave family, town, everything, due to attack. Parents make her/him flee. Lives for revenge, to get inheritance back.
The Extreme Medium (character is a fortune teller, brands herself as this)
The first one is pretty ordinary, trite, even, but it’s there because it might be useful one day. The second one popped into my head one day, I’m not sure why, but I love a silly pun, so I saved it. So, hmm… maybe Betty’s town is attacked when she’s a little girl and she has to flee; all her inheritance is ripped away. As an adult, she becomes The Extreme Medium and uses her otherworldly pals to get justice for herself and her fellow victims from the oppressors who attacked her town so long ago. Or maybe not.
The Swipe List
The Swipe List is one I’ve just come up with recently. I try to have it handy on an electro-gadget somewhere while I’m watching TV. I’ll also pull it out when I’m
The Swipe List is one I’ve just come up with recently. I try to have it handy on an electro-gadget somewhere while I’m watching TV. I’ll also pull it out when I’m reading, if I come across a theft-worthy idea. Lots of are ideas that have been used umpteen times, but you can always reswizzle an old concept to make it your own, and I find it beneficial to have a go-to list of proven ideas to draw from. Here are a couple of items:
A decoy to draw the good guys away from the real thing (or to draw the bad guys away from the good)
Coming upon a room or home that was abandoned in a rush, years before, and seeing the stuff there unmoved, dusty, with something significant there, perhaps
The Swipe List is also helpful because it makes me play closer attention to how shows and movies are put together, and attention to structure is always a good exercise for a writer.
I recommend keeping these lists, or whatever lists work for you, in some kind of Internet-based environment that you can access from any connected device. I use Google Docs and Dropbox, myself, but there’s Evernote, Box, OneDrive, and a host of others. Although much of the stuff you save will be trash, a few things will be treasures, and when you look through the lists, you’ll be able to tell them by the sparkle.
Please be so kind as to share a comment on your own listing practices, or even your journaling practices.
Until next time, keep dreaming stuff up and writing it down.