Sometimes there is just too much. You can’t cram another word in or you need to trim some ideas out to make your writing flow better. They’re really good ideas, but they just don’t fit in with what you’re working on right now.
Don’t trash them! It’s easy to save them and use them for something else. (Unlike turkey, you can store your ideas almost indefinitely without them growing green slime.)
Save Previous Versions
One way to make sure great ideas don’t disappear is to save each new version as a separate document. Avoid overwriting the previous version using that “Save As” function. This way you don’t have to stop in the heat of writing to note an idea you just can’t use right then but which may come in very handy later.
The problem with this is trying to find that idea again. It gets tough to relocate an idea when you just have a faint tickle in your memory of it. You can always try using the software’s search function.
Use Old Fashioned Pen and Paper
I find having a notebook nearby to jot down ideas is helpful. A bound notebook is good for me because I tend to lose individual scraps of paper (although I have been known to misplace notebooks and notepads for days on end).
Again, this isn’t the best method if you want to organize things for easy access in the future. Some people use index cards to help organize ideas.
Don’t use this method if you are in the writing “zone.” You don’t want to slow yourself down when you’re hot. However, if you are doing a leisurely cruise through after you’re done or you are in revision, this isn’t a bad way to go.
I found that this old-fashioned method is excellent for when you’re stuck for an idea. You can pick up your notebook or cards, and read through them to find tasty nuggets to spark your creative juices.
Tap into Writing Specific Software
There are lots of software and apps out there specifically designed to help writers organize and write out their ideas. A couple that I haven’t used but seem to have solid followings are Scrivener and Evernote. From what I’ve read, they are great at helping writers easily organize and access notes and information especially for long works.
I have dabbled a bit with Microsoft’s OneNote but not to the point where I feel comfortable recommending it. It is another tool to help organize ideas that is open to writers.
I’d be interested in feedback from those of you who have used these (and similar offerings) especially in how you use them. I’m still a newbie with these.
Fly in the Cloud
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m out and about waiting for something – my car to be worked on, the doctor to see me – and I want to do some work. The problem is that all my “stuff” is sitting on my hard drive or a thumb drive that I can’t access. Tapping into my notes and ideas stored in Internet based files keeps me productive (and alleviates boredom).
Electronic documents are the equivalent of plastic containers for storing leftovers. Cloud access through services like Google Docs, Dropbox, and OneDrive are like traveling refrigerators. You can pull out those writing leftovers anywhere on a laptop, tablet, or smart phone; work on them; and even put what’s left back in the “fridge.”
If you get into the habit of stashing away some of these great leftovers, you will have a cornucopia to select from when you’re most in need of a good idea.
What are some of the ways you save those writing leftovers?