As we begin our work week, it is important to understand that there are priorities in life.
Surprisingly, I will tell you that unless you are writing for a living your novel or screenplay may not be the most important thing.
Of course there are the always important items such as friends and family. But you also need to keep in mind the smaller things that can have a high importance in your life, too.
Food, sleep, and entertainment are near the top of that secondary list. And you also need to keep in mind mental and emotional reset periods.
The main problem with being a writer and dealing with all the things everyone else deals with is that you can’t really stop new ideas from coming. What to do?
An idea notebook is not a bad place to start.
In the Extra Draft Writing Method course, you will learn all about idea notebooks, how and why to use them and how to train yourself to never need them again.
However, I won’t ever advocate to not use an idea notebook when you feel it is needed. I keep one that is designed for the very best of my ideas, but I don’t take it with me everywhere.
Instead, it is more of a holding place for the ideas I know I will turn into novels or screenplays. I have it there so I can easily go through the list when looking for my next project. You can use it to store the ideas, characters for that project as well as scene prompts and other tid-bits as they come up.
So for this writing prompt we will play around with idea notebooks and their “proper” use.
Open a new document, notebook or even scrap paper (for now). Pick an idea you have or start a new idea. Write down only the things you need to progress the idea further in the future.
The task here isn’t to create an entire new idea notebook (though it will ultimately lead to it in most cases).
Instead, you want to learn what to write, how to write it and the purpose behind it all.
To start, you need to write down enough of the idea that you can remember what the idea is leading to. Many writers tend to try to accurately describe every nuance of their ideas.
You don’t need to do this. It takes a lot of time and, as we all know, from idea to final draft there are too many changes that will take place. So, you only need to write enough to refresh your memory of the idea when the time comes.
However, it is that time between getting the idea and starting the rough draft that we are most concerned about here.
If the idea is big enough, you will constantly get more ideas to flesh it out. From time to time, there will be things that you think about or want to add. That is what the notebook is for.
What to Add
Aside from the idea itself, there are things you want to add as you think of them. When dealing with your real idea notebook, you will want to save space between ideas (an extra page or two should work).
When you do add items, it should be things that are fleeting but important.
For example a character trait. If you suddenly get an idea that your MC should carry a cane and walk with a limp, write that down. If you feel it is important that they always wear something green, write that down.
These are the kinds of traits that may or may not make it to the rough draft if you decide to leave them in your brain. I call them, fleeting ideas.
The same is to be had for scenes, settings, actions, and even subplots.
When you get an idea you think is important and may not stay with you long enough to make it to the rough draft, write it down.
It is important to note that when you do write in your idea notebook, you keep it short. Just a little reminder of your initial thought. Remember, you don’t need pages and paragraphs of your thoughts and ideas. Since things will change mostly, during your drafts and edits, you won’t need much to get you going.
For today’s prompt, you want to practice writing little sentences so you can see how small reminders make a full idea much later on, down the road.