Hi gang, Craig with you again. I may have posted something about this before, but I’ve reached a point in life where “I don’t remember” stops being an excuse and becomes reality. Stick with me, though. What I’m offering might prove beneficial to some of you.
Okay, it might come across a bit like this:
This comes with a small story. Once upon a time, I had written a couple of books and wanted to write another one. The only problem is I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to write. It turned out to be one of the worst experiments in my life, and I vowed to never be in that position again. If that sounds similar to problems you’re facing, stick with me.
I turned to one of my standard tools – living documents. I started with one called Story Ideas. That isn’t where I stopped, but it was a beginning. This morphed into my already existing use of storyboards.
One of the habits I’ve developed involves flipping through Facebook, Flipboard, Pinterest, and others every night. I move pretty fast and something has to grab me pretty quick to get a deeper look. When something is interesting I save it right away. This makes Pinterest the hands-down winner, because storage is part of the program.
These things work on my brain and occasionally I get those what-if ideas that give birth to stories. This is where it all starts coming together.
When an idea lodges in my mind, I open my notes app and jot down something that I can remember it by. Hard to forget things if I write them down. There is an intentional delay in this phase, because some of them don’t force me to dwell upon them. You have a mind, so you understand how they work.
There is a hierarchy to keep up with here. Inspirational things lead to fleeting thoughts. If one of those proves interesting it goes in the notes app. You will have to modify some of this for your own lifestyle. For me, I have this magical period of time known as the daily commute. These things bounce around in my mind. Occasionally, they combine like elements to form molecules.
Honestly, most of them die on the vine, but they never leave the notes app. I have years worth of stuff saved in there. It’s like the opposite side of the mirror where other authors will tell you never to outright delete something you remove from your story. It could have value later in your career. There’s only one way it gets deleted and that’s when it’s published on Amazon.
Long term followers know I am a storyboarder. That is my next step. For those rare ideas that want to grow and combine into something – I start a storyboard.
This is not to say all the storyboards become manuscripts. Again, there is a filtering process, but at this level they could become manuscripts.
At the time of this writing, I have eight existing storyboards. This isn’t to say they’re all finished. With about half of them, I could start writing tomorrow if I wanted. The others are close, but still need a little something.
I don’t think I’ll ever not have something to write again. This process comes with the benefit of time to make these into something worthy and not just a basic plot with stock characters.
This may sound tedious, but I promise you it isn’t. Twenty minutes of surfing every night might lead to two minutes of jotting something into a notes app. I might only jot something down once per week. Every other week, I might make one index card for my storyboard.
Think about how long it takes to draft a story. Over the period of that six months to a year, you could be plotting out your next one by using a few minutes per day.
Story Empire is a writing blog, and by now you know there’s nothing that works for everyone. This process works for me, maybe it will work for you too. Feel free to modify whatever I mentioned. It has to work in your world, maybe you’re more into notebooks and character sheets. That’s all good, the point is to write it down.
I had to google this, but there is a quote that’s appropriate here:
“To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” — Thomas Edison
That seems appropriate to this process.