Friday, March 6, 2009

Attracting Ideas

I'm assuming you read often, yes? Most writers do. I read novels, biographies, non-fiction books, magazines, trade articles, blogs, internet reviews, e-mails, etc... And I always learn something, but if I don't write down the snippets of ideas, they tend to disappear.

Photo by demibrooke

That's why it's important to tear out, or photocopy, magazine articles that fascinate you. Print out the advice you read online. Keep a diary of all the books you've read and write a brief review along with your impressions of the book.

Sometimes, I'll read something and a few years will pass before I realize I need that information. There's nothing worse than remembering the outline of something you've read but having no access to the details. Make it easy on yourself; keep records of this stuff!

Everything you read should be mentally combed for ideas. Say you're enjoying a National Geographic magazine article about diminishing rainforests. The article's okay until some strapping millionaire, bound and determined to save the rainforest, is described in great detail. Your interest suddenly shoots through the roof. At times like this, do yourself a favor and tear out or copy the article. You'll regret it if you don't.

Elephant trekking Khao Sok National Park Thailand
Photo by rene_ehrhardt

Now, I'm not saying you're going to write a story about a millionaire saving the rainforest (although it sounds good to me), but the drama of the situation might trigger some other idea. You'll want that article for reference.

But what do you do with these copies? That depends on how organized you are. I have a stack of blank manila folders for photocopies and printouts, and I have binders for magazine articles. I could be more organized, and at some point I probably will be, but for now, my system works for me.

When you're feeling out of ideas, look through your Idea Journal, but if nothing in there tickles your fancy, spend a bit of time perusing your folders and binders. Something is bound to jump out at you.

Look at the picture below. An entire thriller could be plotted out from it! Those roots look like little frozen angels, or demons--you decide.

Anthropomorphic Roots
Photo by mydailycommute

Next week we'll continue our discussion on gathering ideas.

Enjoy your weekend!

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