Monday, October 15, 2007

A garbage can filled with story ideas

Elsa from Boulder, Colorado (an aspiring author herself) emailed last week to ask how I come up with my my story ideas. Do I find it difficult thinking them up or do scenes just suddenly jump into my head while I'm writing?

Hmmmm... I have to admit the latter does sometimes happen, usually late at night when I'm writing and my mind takes
off on me. I'll start laughing
(or get emotional) thinking of something a specific character would do that I hadn't even
considered before then.

However, even when I'm not writing, I'm always working. I go to sleep thinking about my novel, I wake up in the middle of the night to jot down notes, and I carry blank index cards with me wherever I go.

I'm always writing something down I've seen or overheard or thought of that's relavent to the book I'm working on at the time. Then, at the end of each day, I stuff everything into
a twelve inch-high aluminum garbage can labelled 'story ideas' (index cards, photos, articles I've cut out of magazines or newspapers) and every few weeks I'll dump it out and go through it, taking what I want and putting back what I've decided to reserve for another novel.

It might seem like an odd process, but it works well for me!


Elsa said...

Thanks for answering my email on your blog. I enjoyed The Tin Box and The Penny Tree, and am looking forward to April so I can read The Silver Compass.

Great idea (the garbage can)
I may steal it if you don't mind!

wordman17 said...

Huh. I jot stuff down too but I usually type it all into a word document on my system called IDEAS. Only problem is now
it's a huge mess.

I like this better!

spyscribbler said...

That is pretty cool, LOL! I don't write down that stuff. I just kinda hope it's there when I sit down the next day.

Sometimes it's not, and I hate that. But, strangely enough, I haven't put two and two together yet and started carrying around index cards, yet. :-)

Kim Stagliano said...

FAbulous! Like a giant receipt Shoebox! I shall call you Oscar. Even though you aren't a grouch. Mostly. I love that idea.... I saw a woman on my flight to FL with hair that I would call whispy Apricot. It was a pink orange color, very thin and frankly, hideous. She wasn't 90 years old either. I must add that head to a story! Gotta get me a trash can!

kyla-dale said...

If someone else is calling
you Oscar, then I shall
call you the story idea lady.
Your working on your book even when you're not writing?!! Gulp.
I'd have no social life if I
let it consume me like that.

This said from someone who
isn't published (lol)

Janet said...

I have a computer file I jot notes in, but your idea sounds like a lot more fun.

Heidi the Hick said...

Ha ha! That's great! My "garbage can" is a little Happy Bunny notebook with the caption, "Crazy doesn't even begin to cover it!"

I write down overheard conversations in it. I carry it around in my purse, everywhere I go. In the bookstore I'll whip it out and write down titles of books I must read.

I also have discovered Moleskine notebooks. They're big enough to get stuff written down but small enough (smaller than 8x10) to fit into my purse if I need to. I jot stuff down constantly. It's my WORKBOOK. And I do mean work.

I'm so glad to hear you say that you're always working. We have to be. I can't write unless I've got some living going on, because every experience gets added to the bank of knowledge. That's where the stories come from!

I do love your garbage can Idea!!

Holly Kennedy said...

Elsa - Nice to you have stop in. Steal away. Everyone has to do what works best for them!

Wordman17 - While I'm writing a novel, I create a DUMP ZONE at the end of the manuscript. This is where I paste everything I know I want to use in the book, I just don't know where to put it yet.

Spyscribbler -- How is the writing going at your end? I hope well :)

Holly Kennedy said...

Kim - So I'm Oscar now, huh?
Fair enough, Missy. How was Disneyland? Did you come home exhausted?

Kyla-dale -- Actually, I don't have a social life, but then again, I LOVE my writing and get such joy out of it that when it consumes any free time I do have, I'm really okay with that.

Janet -- I know what you mean abou the computer file. I also keep a few for character names, etc. My way actually seems much more disorganized and messy than yours :)

Holly Kennedy said...

Heidi -- I'll have to search out some Moleskin notepads. They sound like the perfect size.

I'm always getting notebooks and post-it notes and journals for gifts from my family because no one ever knows what to get me!

Ramona said...

I love this garbage can.
I'm so copying you on
this one!

Adam said...

You cut out newspaper articles and magazine pieces and such all the time? You truly are working even when you aren't 'writing' aren'tcha?!


Wendy Roberts said...

I love the garbage can idea! Can I steal it?

friend from a-town said...

Hopefully no one comes along
and empties that little garbage can on yah while cleaning up huh? I'd hate to be the person who
made that mistake!!!!

ORION said...

I have something like's called a boat...

Travis Erwin said...

I've had lots of ideas end up in the garbage ... unfortunatly that is where most of them belonged.

The Anti-Wife said...

My garbage can is my office. There are notes and ideas everywhere. I love your idea of a single receptacle for everything.

Melinda A said...

I got so fed up of my notes spread out all over my cubby-styled 'office' that I did put them all in a shoebox last year and my husband unwittingly threw them out!!!! Him bad.