As a creative person, I’m “cursed” with having ideas throughout the year, often at an importune moment (i.e. just as I’m about to fall asleep). In and of itself, this is a mild annoyance. The real problem comes when the shiny new idea distracts me from the main project I want to focus on.
For years now, I have used a notebook as the receptacle of all my ideas and a bargaining chip with my brain (with which I have a love/hate relationship, as shown countless times before). The deal is simple: if it’s in the notebook, it has no place in my mind for now, but I will look at it again next October at the latest. So far, this little trick has done wonders to keep my head cleared and focused.
When October rolls around, I go through all the notes accumulated over the years that I haven’t used yet and flag the ones that catch my attention, the ones I feel I’m ready to expand upon. The notes are extremely varied in format. I literally write down everything that sounds cool in my head whether it’s a high concept for a universe or a disembodied dialogue exchange. Here’s a page for your viewing pleasure:
Do some of the notes make no sense to you? You and me, both!
The purpose of the notebook is not to preserve the authenticity of the original idea. If that was the goal, I’d write every novels I thought about as they came and never finish anything. The goal is to keep the spark, which may or may not spark something similar or completely different when I get back to it. Some of them may never inspire me again and that’s alright too; I have pages of this stuff.
When a note does spark something as I read it in October, I transfer it to a list of potential NaNoWriMo projects. Once I’ve gone through the notebook, I move on to step 2 of my preparation, which I’ll share tomorrow.
What about you? Do you have a special method to compile ideas? Do you just see what October brings and go from there? Do you plan your NaNo at all?