The Idea Log

I keep this running log of the ideas, quotes, scenes and whatnot that pop into my head, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Really, it’s not even just one log. Anywhere I can write down an idea when it comes to me, I do. So, usually this ends up being the Notes app in my phone, but I’ve got a Word doc on my work computer, another one on my home computer and I think I’ve got one on my wife’s computer too, even though I’m rarely if ever actually on that.

Oh, I’ve also got this lovely stack of sticky notes, tear-offs, napkins and other papers in the midst of the pile that is my desk. That’s normal, right? I mean, you just never know where these ideas are going to pop up—just these week, I got some pretty good ones walking the dog, watching Fear the Walking Dead, and driving to New York. Just randomly popped in there.

Anyways, I’ve got this log, but I’ve never organized the thing. Sure, if something seems like it’ll make sense in one story or another, I’ll give it a label beforehand, but that’s pretty much it. And until now, that’s worked just fine.

“Until now” being the key words right then and there. Because the other day, I had this perfection of an idea, this concept that I knew would throw a diamond-plated wrench at this whole new book I’d been thinking of. So, of course, I scrambled to write it down before it wholly evaporated like so many tend to do—and lo and behold, I’d come up with almost the exact same thing about a year ago.

What. The. Hell.

I couldn’t be doing that. Refining, revising, adding to an idea—those are all great. But just repeating? No good.

So organize is what I did. I created individual sections for every book I’ve developed into an actual premise (and for which I had written down ideas—so, you know, nine of them or so) and started dropping the ideas here and there and everywhere. Nothing complicated, really. Just straight bucketing.

But it’s enough. For now.

I should mention the largest section of the document comprises notes, phrases, scenes, characters, traits, etc. for future books I haven’t even come up with yet. Could be, some of these can get added to those aforementioned nine, but who knows. They’re years out, and a lot can happen in a few years you know? Heck, two years ago I didn’t have a son. Four years ago I was living in a one bedroom apartment and wasn’t even married yet. So, yeah, years? They keep going. And the ideas, well, they just keep on coming. Knock on wood.