Thursday, March 02, 2006

Organizing Your Writing Part II - Organizing Your Ideas

fillllll's Ideas
Uploaded on May 18, 2005
by Auntie K
I think that this is the part that gets me most - having ideas and either forgetting them or never capitalizing on them. I always try to find ways to organize my ideas so that I could have a clear path for both my writing projects and my current WIP.

Meaning: 1) organizing the different concepts into different stories, and 2) structure the ideas of one story in a certain sensible way.

I apologize if I don't make much sense. Unlike Organizing Your Writing Part I - tracking submissions, which is an objective matter, tracking ideas is a subjective issue. What works for one definitely wouldn't work for another. Some minds constantly teem with ideas while other are more structured and can work on command during a brainstorm session. And this is just one example.

I used to be a little obnoxious and walk around with a little notebook where I wrote ideas, sentences, images and events whenever they happened to occur. My notebook was (still is) divided into the above-mentioned four parts. My main problem was that during two times that I felt most creative - shower and sleep - I didn't have access to my notebook and usually forgot everything.

For the concept section I have another notebook at home (not the little one I carry with), where I work on trying to develop the concepts into themes. Many times I combine a few ideas, intertwine them, tackle them until they become a full blown plot. Or not.

I still carry my notebook around these days, but I've relaxed my vigilance of being on the lookout for a good idea. I now try to concentrate on further developing ideas I've come up with.

I love how Orson Scott Card put it:
Story ideas are happening around you all the time. But the storyteller has to look at events and scenes with a questioning mind. Why did this happen? Why else might it happen? What could be the result of this? What else? Things are this way now; how else might they be? What if this changed? What if that?

I still don't think I do a very good job with the organization and most often I find that what happens when I write and what I planned are two different things.

The more I write this post, the more confused I get myself. And as for mapping the ideas to form a plot, I guess I touched on it, but I'm not very good at that either, maybe someone else want to tackle that one?

Eric was quick on the mark. Here is his Mind Maps post.
Read the rest

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redchurch said...


"And as for mapping the ideas to form a plot, I guess I touched on it, but I'm not very good at that either, maybe someone else want to tackle that one?"

Try Freemind.

Or draw a mind map on paper. Don't worry if you've never done this before, there's no 'right' way to do it. The idea is just to draw out your ideas in a connective map to visualize how they relate to one another.

I do this for many things, characters, ideas, and even plot.

As a writer it's impossible to keep all this stuff perfectly organized in your head. So you've got to get it out of your head and onto paper--and not just as part of the normal writing process. You need to SEE your ideas, and SEE how they CONNECT. When you can visualize things, a lot of problems go away--or at least the problems become visible which makes them all the much easier to solve.

Read more about mindmaps here.

redchurch said...

Thanks for the inspiration Melly.

Melly said...

Eric, wow. Thanks. I'll update the post with you link :)
Somehow it doesn't surprise me to see how organized you are with your ideas.

alexandra said...

I use Alepin for sketching out ideas and storylines and for keeping track of ideas. It's a super little piece of software for the Apple Mac. Cost me a staggering ten bucks!

rdl said...

well organization is one thing and creativity is another alltogether.
nice post!

Deborah said...

I use NovaMind's mindmapping software and Circus Pony's Notebook.

melly said...

Ah, Alexandra, the wonders of Macs... I always say my next computer will be a mac but then cheap out again :)

Thanks rdl. Yes, with me those two are indeed two very different things.

Deborah, you use a software too?
It doesn't actually surprise me. You are very organzied.
I didn't even know all theose software exist. Amazing. Maybe I'll add them all to the update.

redchurch said...

I often think of organization as one of my 'self-hacks' - Ways for me to compensate for my disorganized nature. I'm way more disorganized than you'd think from my posts and hurrah for structure. I just try to compensate.

Speaking of 'self-hacking' there's a wonderful site called LifeHacker that covers a lot of these issues. It's pretty random, but try it out for a week and there's bound to be something that'll catch your eye and help you.

Melly said...

Thanks Eric, I'll take a look.
To (dis)orgamization :)