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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ideas and How to Use Them

Time once again for a tweet-up! Anne and I are hosting one this afternoon. To join, head to Twitter and use the #writingsquared hashtag. (Best way is to make a column in your viewer just for that hashtag.)

Yesterday was productive despite a "travel hangover" and the lack of several promised files. I worked ahead in hopes of reining in some of the copy I have to deliver. The clients hope to have this by this month. We're nearly halfway through the month. While I'm keen to meet client deadlines, my hands are tied unless I get the changes soon.

Also, I spent some time reviewing a book for a writer chum. It will launch soon, and I'm itching to get her here to talk about the topic. Maybe next week...

Some of yesterday I spent putting some ideas down on paper. Just the ideas - I'm not ready to generate queries from them. But sometimes a great idea walks up and taps your shoulder. Here's what I do:

Write it down. I've learned long ago to stop relying on memory. Or at least I think I learned (can't remember!). Now I take paper with me everywhere. I keep paper and pen next to the bed (oh, the ideas that come out of that quiet time is amazing!). I underline and print whatever appeals. Plus I leave notes on printed stuff so I'm able to remember what it is I liked about it.

Create a file. If you took Devon's and my course this year, you were blessed to hear how Devon organizes her ideas and creates an idea file for her fiction writing. If not, find some way of bringing your notes into a cohesive, singular area. My nonfiction file is a manila folder with papers and notes inside. That requires me to look in it once in a while, so....

Set up a time to review. Maybe in a few weeks, you'll be ready to look through that folder. Set up an Outlook/Lotus/Thunderbird reminder and stick to your appointment.

Dig deeper into each idea. Don't try sorting them all. Just browse the folder, find one that draws your attention, then explore that topic. What's on the Internet that can inspire that idea to grow?

Think of who needs it. Answer the unanswered question: what will this mean to my chosen audience? For example, suppose your attention was drawn to an article on El Nino/El Nina cycles and extreme weather. What does that mean to say surfers, the fishing industry, or people who love to eat seafood? Figure out whom you'd like to target with that story, then try to answer the question from their perspective.

How do you get the most from your ideas? What is your process for turning neat articles or cool topics into paying articles?


By happenstance, Anne Wayman has a similar post up on ideas today. Talk about universes aligning! Give her some comment love.


Kagem said...

By far the best idea for me is buying a small notebook and treating it as an idea diary.

My top tip would also to be to date your ideas because that is a cool way to organise them. You can look back in your diary to see how your juices were flowing in August/Sep etc.

Lori said...

That's a cool way to do it, Kagem! I have those same small notebooks - all over the place! But I hadn't thought to date them. I will now!

Lori said...

Here's irony for you - buddy Anne Wayman ALSO has a post up about ideas today! The weird part is neither of us talked to the other about our posts.

Give Anne some comment love:

Paula said...

I wish I could join the Tweet Up, but New Twitter won't let me tweet or even reply to tweets anymore. I can retweet by clicking the retweet button on another site (yet I can't retweet from Twitter). I can cross-post a LinkedIn comment as a tweet if I need to, but I hate it when other people do that.

Such is life without a smart phone or a computer with a newer OS that Twitter actually supports.

Have fun. Let me know what happens!

Lori said...

Paula, are you using a particular app or are you going straight from Is there nothing out there that is supporting your OS?

Paula said...

When New Twitter was foist upon me, I checked out all of the options I could find: HootSuite, TweetDeck, and there was a third one I can't think of right now. All required OS 10.4 or 10.5 or higher. None worked with OS 10.3.9.

If anyone can think of any others I should try, let me know.

Please, my OS is so "old" one Mac Genius I spoke to over the phone (during the Paula Needs a New Keyboard fiasco) ago was probably all of 20 years old seemed shocked that anything ever existed prior to OS 10.5. The problem is 10.5 and higher are incompatible with my particular Mac - so said two other Mac Geniuses.

I really need to win the lottery, but I guess you need to buy tickets for that.

Bill Swan said...

Ya know how weird it is reading almost the same post topic on Anne Wayman's site this morning and then you tonight?

Of course you bring up pair of points that I need to work on. I keep forgetting to write ideas down in time to remember them. When I do write them down, I forget what I was wanting to do with them sometimes.

Lori said...

Get that ticket, Paula.

Bill, isn't it weird? Funny thing was neither Anne nor I planned it. I told her I think we were joined at the brain cells. :)

If it helps, I had a super idea for a poem a few days ago. I thought it was strong enough that I'd never lose it. Bam. Gone in a flash. I'm hoping it will come back.

Kristen King said...

You and Anne are both right on target. The biggest things for me are (a) writing it down and (b) ever looking at it again. Probably followed by (c) having a plan for how and when I will act on ideas. ;)

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