A funny thing happens when you tell people you are a writer. They will usually react in a few different ways.
One reaction I tend to get is, “Oh, that sounds interesting. Are your books any good?”
Depending on how my cycle of self-esteem is that moment, I might say, “Nope, I am complete crap. I am the worst hack to ever put fingers to keys. Thanks for asking.”
I’m sure, if you are a writer, yourself, you know exactly how that little cycle goes.
Another reaction is, “Oh, you’re a writer? I’ve always wanted to write but have a hard time coming up with ideas.”
Now, personally, I find this to be a silly idea, overall. There are many ways to come up with ideas for stories (I’ve written about a couple methods), and you can even use things like Writing Prompts (come back here each Wednesday for prompts from me!), so you do not even have to come up with basic ideas on your own.
Where is the problem?
I think the main problem most people have is not coming up with ideas, it’s keeping the ideas.
I used to have this problem, in a big way. There are times when my creative energy is at a major high point, the ideas for stories come at me, one after another, like some kind of ants on a raid.
It can get very overwhelming, especially if I am already in the middle of a project. In fact, this type of thing seems to happen the most often at that time, since the creative flow is at a peak.
So, what to do if and when this occurs?
I used to use notebooks, a lot, when ideas would come to me.
I would often have one right at my side, all the time, waiting for an idea to strike me, which I would then write down (while thanking my subconscious for the idea).
This worked for a time, but the issue I had with it is the ease at which such a thing would be lost.
I’ve been through the experience of having people in my life that, either through resentment or control, would do anything they could to destroy what I wrote. One relationship I had been in was nothing but that kind of thing. It even got to the point, one night, where I watched as my books and short stories, along with notebooks and bits of paper ideas had been written on, went up in flames. I lost a lot of hope that night.
So, while this might help for some, and does work, I recommend an extra few steps, as well, to help save yourself some heartache and lost ideas.
I’m an old school computer user. I grew up in the era where, if something happened to your computer, whether through bug, crash or power loss, everything had the risk of going poof.
I learned to back up data, and even live by the phrase, “Save, and Save Often.”
Now, that being said, take a lesson from me and the mistakes I made in the past – don’t have your backed up data where people can find it.
As I alluded to above, the backed up data I kept was destroyed, as well.
In the era we are living in, however,r things are much easier to back up off-site and kept at a distance away from any risk that can come along.
The first would be Google Docs. I know many people that have made use of this over the past years and really enjoy how it works, especially since you can keep data private if need be.
Another method is a program called Evernote. This has both a PC/Mac version and App version for phones and tablets. What is nice about this one is, again, everything can be kept private and away from prying eyes, and also is easy to organize.
Thus, if you have multiple ideas going, you can create a new file for each one, and it will be backed up to the Cloud, away from your home or office, and available from multiple locations.
You can also use Dropbox, One Note, and other similar programs to back up the files stored on your computer, if you wish.
I use a mix of the above, with Evernote, an external hard drive (or three!), and also upload the PDFs of my current drafts to a website no one knows about.
Between it all, my data is safe, secure, and away from the ability of anyone to ever destroy.
Scrivener is a program that is really designed with writers in mind. I have used many word processing programs and machines over the years, and this one little program really beats the heck out of anything I have ever used.
The great thing with this program is the ability to organize your information in ways that you find intuitive, for yourself.
This is different from many other programs, simply because, with the others, you are constrained by whatever setup they have in their program.
yWriter is an older program and is not quite as easy, interface wise, as Scrivener, but it works extremely well, and helped me write a few stories. It also happens to be free!
Organization really is the key to helping you catch hold and keep the ideas that float in your head. If you are out and about and have an idea strike you, pull out the notebook you carry and write it down.
Don’t let it end there, though. When you get home, write it into your computer and back it up.
Ideas are precious, and should be treated as such. They are the burbles of your consciousness telling you a story is there and waiting to be written down.
Don’t let it go to waste!