You may remember my, and quite frankly everyone else’s, advice about keeping a journal that I posted just a few weeks ago. Well this is an extension of that.
Keep a book that is just for ideas. Don’t actually explore topics in that notebook. Use a different one to write out the adventure. Keep the list in its own private document so that it won’t be muddled by notes for other things like where to take your dry cleaning and directions to the concert.
Why do this? Well imagine if you wrote down every story idea you ever had. Just imagine it for a moment. You may not expand every idea into its own story but you will probably find that some ideas belong with and in other ideas. They will help you when you’ve hit a dead spot and you aren’t sure which way to turn.
Experiment with it for a bit. I keep an idea notebook and I’m telling you first hand-it’s very useful. When I find that I’m stuck I go back through my book and begin writing scenes with my characters. Will Charlotte Holmes and Joanna Watson ever have a gun fight on the moon? No. Seriously, just no. But Hannah Hamilton (Hannah of Many Hats) might. From that scene I come up with other ideas. What series of events led these characters to this point?
Some ideas work for the story and some do not. Having them all together, however, let’s me (and you) go back through them for other stories. Maybe one of your ideas will sit in the notebook for ten years. Look at it this way: Will you remember it ten years from now?