Tracking Ideas and Inspirations for the Chaos Writer

I’m playing catch up this week — I was at Capclave, a sci fi con in Maryland this weekend.  Now I get all the stuff I didn’t do over the weekend.  I swear, I think Saturday and Sunday is when I run all my errands.  I’ll write a post about Capclave later on.  Meanwhile, back at the Capitol …

One of my writing goals for the quarter is structure.  Not structure like story structure, but outside structure, like organizing papers.  I grew up in a very disorganized house where things were stacked and we only cleaned up when we lost something.  The army was the opposite of that, but their organization never made much sense to me, so when I got out, it was like I exploded back in the other direction again.

But my writing is chaos, but when I let it spread to outside mundane things, it creates disorganization and more chaos that ultimately makes more work for me — and makes it harder to write.  So my goal is focused on finding things that work for me.

The first of these structure things is what to do with ideas.  When I started writing, I kept everything in a pocket notebook that I could carry around me.  Sometimes they ended up on scraps of paper.  Soon they began to breed …

Then they got lost.

Eventually, I turned the notebooks up and was amazed at how many notebooks I had with only a handful of ideas that I had never used stored inside.  Some were more than 20 years old!  So I evolved out of not recording anything because I figured I’d remember it if it was a good idea.

But it’s left me scrambling sometimes when it comes to short story ideas.

So right now, I’m experimenting with using a three-ring binder.  One idea per page, and date it to give it an expiration.  If I’m inspired by a newspaper article, I write the inspiration, not save the whole article.  We’ll see how this works out.

How do you store/track your ideas?

Linda Adams, Soldier Storyteller


Starting November 5, I will doing a month-long session on Forward Motion on “Basic Training of Military Culture.”  The lesson plan for the course is posted here.

Check out my article Balancing Writing and Blogging on Vision: A Resource for Writers.  It deals with the pesky issue of time management so that blogging doesn’t interfere with writing.

And for a little Halloween fun, a very short story about the House of Green Cats on IO9.


Natalie Markey talks about her first day in Saudi Arabia as a non-Saudi Arabian.  I remember when I saw my first Saudi Arabian women.  They reacted as if I were a strange alien creature.

7 thoughts on “Tracking Ideas and Inspirations for the Chaos Writer

  1. livrancourt October 15, 2012 / 9:17 am

    I always have a notebook going where I jot down story ideas or work out tricky bits, and I’ve been experimenting with using Evernote for the same thing. I created an “Ideas” doc in Evernote, and then can access it from either home or work…shhh…don’t tell the Boss I’m thinking up story ideas at work…


    • Linda Adams October 16, 2012 / 6:11 pm

      At work, I’m hastily scribbling the notes on a piece of paper and stuffing it in my planner and hoping no one notices!


  2. Tymber Dalton October 15, 2012 / 9:22 am

    I have spiral notebooks ongoing. One per series, plus one for catch-all ideas. I’ve also emailed myself from my Droid or iPad in the middle of the night. Waking up to ideas I had already forgotten is a treat. 🙂 (Sometimes deciphering what I meant when half asleep and trying to type without glasses is difficult though. LOL) I use Mindola’s Supernotecard for my rough drafts, and it’s like having virtual index cards, so it’s easy to jot ideas down into a catch-all file there, too.


    • Linda Adams October 16, 2012 / 6:13 pm

      The worst place to get ideas seems to be in the car–usually it’s on the freeway where it’s not possible to write anything down!


  3. Ellen Gregory October 16, 2012 / 8:30 am

    I carry around a separate blog journal, a general notebook, and often my WIP journal… my handbag gets very full! Methinks I should take up Liv’s idea of Evernote… although I do like picking up a pen. It’s a different process for me.

    I also have loads of notebooks with partial scraps of ideas in them — some of them are actually quite good when I find them again! But, yes, it’s chaos. Although I’m actually quite an organised person, who lives from lists. Go figure!


    • Linda Adams October 16, 2012 / 6:13 pm

      Boy, that sounds heavy, Ellen! I’ve sort of bounced around with things I need because I hate it when bags get too heavy.


      • Ellen Gregory October 17, 2012 / 7:08 am

        yes, it’s a bit OTT! but they’re not large notebooks. Two of them are quite small.


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