Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How Do You Keep Track of Your Ideas?

As writers, our livelihood depends on our ability to keep churning out new ideas—articles, blog posts, stories, new angles on old topics, and finding “newsworthy” material.

I have to admit, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming.

It’s hard enough to keep track of everything we have to do and everywhere we need to be. Add on the extra stress of not wanting to forget what could be a money-making idea and really, sometimes it’s enough to make me want to hide under the covers for a few days.

Am I the only one who thinks like this?

So, how do you handle the very important task of keeping track of your ideas?

I took the advice of many writers I know and started keeping a notebook. I took my time because I wanted to find something that would work for me—yes, I know it’s a notebook, but most writers know how important it is to have just the right tools. So I shopped around until I found one that met my specifications (basically, something sturdy that would also fit into my purse). Once I found it, I wondered how I’d lived without it.

I love my idea notebook. Since I have so many projects to follow up on and keep track of, it’s so nice to just jot something down and not stress about forgetting it. I try to list the article idea and a market that might be a good fit; other times I just make a list of possible story ideas and try to find markets later. It may not be a perfect system, but it’s been working for me. Once I complete a certain number of assignments, I go back into my notebook and see what else might be worth pitching.

I also started keeping a spreadsheet of my queries so I can see what ideas I’ve already pitched, and which ones I need to follow up on. Organization is not my strongest suit, but my system works for me.

Your turn! How do you keep track of your story ideas?


  1. I do things:
    1. I keep a blog where I write out all the stuff that has been building up in me. While the blog does get traffic, I don't write for others there. In fact, some of the stuff I write is just words and sentence fragments that will help me remember what I was thinking. Ppl who come to my blog would not understand what I am trying to say.
    2. I write stuff down on anything handy lying around... papers, napkins, my hand even if need be. I have a bunch of notebooks and sketchbooks, but I hate carrying them around.
    ~ R. Rao