Interestingly enough, the idea for this post came off a napkin.
Or rather, I wrote the idea down on a napkin.
I do that a lot. If you opened the drawer of my nightstand, you’d find a small notebook full of ripped paper, napkins, and sticky notes all covered with late-night scrawls of half-thought out ideas. Not all of them are good, but I generally find that my best story ideas come to me as I’m lying awake at night, unable to sleep. For this reason, I keep a pad of blank paper in the drawer next to the notebook.
Now, the idea for this post didn’t happen late at night (hopefully not indicating non-goodness), but it did come to me in the middle of work, which isn’t necessarily the most convenient time to have a thought. What’d I have available in a kitchen? A napkin. Works for me.
It’s pretty easy to write down ideas as they come to you on anything that you happen to have nearby (and honestly, I’d recommend it), but that also means those written thoughts are pretty easy to lose. Organization is the key to writing and writing well, because if your thoughts are a jumbled up mess, so is your writing.
Not so good at keeping organized? Don’t worry. I got you covered with a few tips for jumpstarting your organization.
1) Transfer your scribbles to one location. I’m not really the best at this (as you can tell by the description of my notebook), but I can attest to the fact that it’s very difficult to put together a story with all your ideas on random pieces of junk. Not only is it hard to store all these objects, but it can also be difficult to read the hurried writing, which means ideas could become skewed or even forgotten if left alone for too long. Rewriting or typing these thoughts onto regular paper in a timely fashion can save you the headache of writer’s block later on.
2) Store your rewrites in one spot. In addition to the messy notebook, I’ve also got various ideas typed out on several word documents, each with a similar title to the others (“story ideas,” “musings,” etc.). Why have I done this? I’m not sure. It would certainly be a lot easier to have all my ideas in one word document or on one pad of paper where I can easily read and see them. Don’t follow my example.
3) Categorize. Categorize. Categorize. Start by making headings for each novel or piece of writing you’re working on. Then, make subcategories for character descriptions, locations, plot, dialogue, etc. Write down any of your ideas under the appropriate category so that they’re easier to go back to and find. Writing made easy. If that sounds like too much work, there’s a lovely little app that organizes for you, which I highlighted in a post here.
Of course, these tips are just to help really unorganized writers like me start to create some order in their writing process. If organized writing makes for easy writing, and easy writing makes for good writing, then that must mean that organization leads to good writing (If O = E and E = G then O = G. Hey, look. Math.).
Got your own way of organizing your writing? Tell me in the comments. Or, click on the picture below to see how famous authors kept notes.