On Writing: An Idea Notebook?

Today’s word count: 2269

NANTUCKET word count to date: 38,085

HARPER word count to date: 2,128

I have never been one to have a shortage of ideas, but I’ve also never developed a habit of writing down all the ideas I get. As some of you know, I stopped writing fiction for a long time before recently starting to write again; during those years, I have had several “big” ideas occur to me, and I’ve kept them all in my head, adding bits and pieces to them during frequent bouts of daydreaming.

I’ve always figured this was the best way to do things. I still have some nicely developed ideas running around in my head that first came to me years ago. But now I’m wondering if maybe I should start putting my ideas down on paper after all. Start up an idea notebook.

The reason for this shift in thinking? I’ve been getting a little tired of scrolling back over earlier parts of my manuscript to find some minor character’s name, or the name of a business I’d use somewhere along the line. So yesterday I grabbed a notebook that was lying around, in order to jot down the names of some of the secondary characters I was intending to write about.

I flipped open the notebook I’d grabbed, and this is what I found, written in my own hand:

Bits and Pieces.

From dream:

– a witch, a demon, a black shark helicopter*

– group of girls who can’t let others know that they know

– the witch & demon are opposites. Witch has same powers, only for good.

– the guy, standing outside the glass doors, raising magic to spy. Magic leaves green trace that takes a few seconds to dissipate. Bad guy shows up, good guy switches magic off but too late, leaves signs.

– twin super skiers** are on the good guy’s side. They glow when they ski.

– the one girl must be able to do what she needs to do under all their noses.

– it is a race against time ***

*don’t ask. But it sounds kind of interesting, doesn’t it?

**I don’t have a clue. But this is exactly what I had written down.

***aren’t they all?

This notebook was lying on top of a cabinet that I had cleared off just a few months ago. So it’s relatively new. Here’s the thing, though: Do I remember having this dream? No. Don’t even remember it after reading these notes. Do I remember writing down this dream? No. Not at all. I admit, it IS in my handwriting, so I must have written it down. Do I know what any of this means? No. Not at all. But there are some little things that I sort of like and wouldn’t mind using in a story somewhere (not the skiers, though – but don’t blame me. It was a dream, not me!)

Okay, so I know why this particular “idea”  didn’t make it to my list of “big” ideas that I carry around in my head. But on the other hand, it’s interesting in its own way. And it seems to me there are bits of it that might actually be usable.

So I’ve decided to try keeping an idea notebook. (Update: Yes, my dreams do tend to be like this, vivid with lots of action elements, like watching a movie, only often I’m in them. Sometimes, I ‘m not. Is it any surprise that I like to sleep?)

What about you? Do you store your ideas in a notebook? Are you organized about it, or is it just a journal filled with bits and pieces? If you do use one, have you found it to be useful?

8 thoughts on “On Writing: An Idea Notebook?

  1. Ann-Kat

    You know, that would make an interesting short story if ever you were to write one. I must admit, though, that the whole “black shark helicopter” thing and the skiers that glow did trip me up. LOL

    As for me and writing down my ideas, it’s hit or miss. Sometimes I’ll remember to write down my ideas or my dreams for a while, then I’ll set it aside and completely forget about it.

    Lately I’ve been carrying around an unlined Moleskine notebook (large) that I absolutely adore. It allows me to sketch, which I’ve been doing a lot more of, and it allows me to write down story ideas that come to me and I don’t need to worry about having it organized or anything like that.

    For the most part, it’s working and I believe it’s a system I can stick with because: 1) the notebook is awesome (paper quality = excellent and cover = highly durable; 2) it’s small enough to fit in my purse; and 3) it just looks cool. Plus, it gives me a chance to use the wonderful mechanical pencil (mine’s pink) and superfine point pen that I picked up in Hong Kong. 😀

    (I know that the above paragraph looks like a commercial for all those products, but I must say, I’m not affiliated in any way…just a happy camper.)

    Ann-Kat’s last blog post..Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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  2. Belle Post author

    rhapsodyinbooks, I know – you’d think since it was your own thought or dream, it would come back to you! But not here. No memories still whatsoever of that dream – and it must have been a doozie, I think.

    Ann-Kat, thanks for the heads-up. Yep, you were caught in the spam filter LOL I released your comment – great stuff there. I love Moleskines, but always think they’re kind of heavy to be carting around. Still, it might be worth a try because they are absolutely gorgeous things. The superfine pen looks good; I don’t write in pencil … ah, but you sketch, don’t you? Pencil looks good too, then!

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  3. Dorte H

    I do store ideas in a notebook if I am away from my laptop (doesn´t happen often). If I think they are worth anything, I rewrite them quite soon, because I know I´ll not be able to decipher them otherwise.

    If I wake up at night with an idea, I also get out of bed and write it down. Not necessarily because the idea is bright, but in the middle of the night I always think so and can´t go back to sleep until my masterpiece has been put down on paper 😀

    Dorte H’s last blog post..Joan Smith, A Masculine Ending (1987)

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  4. Ann-Kat

    I thought the Moleskine would be heavy too, but it’s light when compared to the other things I’m toting around in my bag. When I originally ordered the plain large notebook, I feared it would be too big and clunky, but was pleasantly surprised.

    If you still think they’re too heavy, I’d recommend trying to cahiers. They have a soft flexible cover, and IMO, are significantly lighter than their leather counterparts.

    And yep, I do sketch. In fact, I’ve been doing much more of it and thanks to you, I discovered a new blog that has given me super-duper inspiration to start sharing some of those sketches over at TIR. 😀
    .-= Ann-Kat´s last blog ..A New Feature (Maybe) =-.

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  5. Rebecca

    I have 3 idea journals. One is for all of the random story ideas that pop into my head, one is for my ideas related to a mystery/crime novel I am trying to get the nerve to write, and one is related to a fiction story that I started a few years ago and then abandoned but want to get back to one day (so needless to say I haven’t touched this latter journal in a while.) I quickly go from having an idea to having it float right out the window if I don’t write it down. I have no short-term memory, I swear to it. I would carry a small journal around with you in your purse or bag for jotting down ideas, too. You never know where inspiration will strike you- a street name, a person’s expression, newspaper headline, something someone says to you in passing. Don’t let these ideas and inspirations get away anymore!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Monday Movie Meme: On Tuesday :) =-.

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