Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Idea File

Every writer has one, whether it’s physical or a storage unit in the brain. I have many ideas I look at and love the concept, but realize it isn’t developed enough to become a story. Even when I find the lynchpin, the thing that will make it a novel, it’s not always strong enough to live. There are several ideas I’ve tried only to die on the first chapter, or even the first word, either because I was so in love with it that I thought I could make it work or because it hadn’t been given enough time to “grow” in my brain first.

It’s why I have an idea file, one physical (well, as physical as a file in Word is) and the other mental. The mental one gets more ideas every day, from dreams, me asking myself “What would happen if…?” and just plain random inspirations (that’s a cool picture…I must make a story for it). For a few days after being put in there, the idea is at the front, where I can look at it every time I open the drawer. But it gets pushed back every time. Unless it’s really strong, the kind that jumps up and says “Still here!” every time I open the file, it gets pushed so far back that only random chance brings it up again. And then it just disappears among the neurons in my brain.

Self-destruction is a good thing. Most of my ideas are only good when I’m in that spot after I’ve woken up but before I’ve really escaped sleep. Only the really, really (I hope) good ones even migrate to the physical file.

The physical file isn’t much different from the mental one. It’s got a bunch of scraps, good ones yes, but still scraps. I haven’t found the spark that makes me have to write it down yet, so they’re usually vague, stumbling attempts at making it into a story. And because the delete process isn’t automatic, it’s a lot harder to get rid of these. There’s something there, damn it! Just, sadly, not enough. It isn’t “right”. Yet.

Anyway, that’s my writerly ramblings for the week. The idea file, that sliver of unconsciousness all writers carry around. Thoughts?


  1. I have an idea file, both physical and mental as well. I've had ideas in the physical file that have sat there for years--I still like the idea of them, but I'm not a skilled enough writer to know how to pull them off yet and I'm too chicken to try. I agree that most of the mental ones that disappear don't hold up enough to become a novel, but darn if some of them aren't decent "middle-of-the-night, my-goodness-why-in-the-world-didn't-I-write-that-down!" ideaas.

  2. I have so many folders of things I thought were good to save at the time. Most will probably die with my computer when it goes to the land of the blue screens. LOL A few make it into a future ms planning binder, though. ;)

  3. I think you need to pull all of those ideas out at once and jumble them together and see what you can do with that.

  4. Yep, I've got one of those. Come to think of it, I haven't updated the "story ideas" file in a while. And I have a couple ideas I should add...

  5. I have both. Sometimes an idea will let itself grow for years on end and quietly develop in my subconcious until it's time to run with it.


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