Story Idea List

In the last post I mentioned the importance of making lists of story ideas as a sign of respect for your muse. I mentioned that a few words will do. As I looked at my current list of blog ideas, I decided to share it to give you an idea of how these lists can work. Take a look:
  • Death Comes to the Archbishop, Willa Cather — well-turned phrases
  • Grandkids, Camp RYLA. perception —> memory
  • Power of “when” Zippy. Repetition/attribution
  • Awkward sentence examples
  • “I'd know who wrote it ...”
  • Powerful stories take courage to tell — Jane’s grandson
  • Share blog item list
  • Respect — for self and others. How learned?
  • Curly quotes and stuff like that
  • Story organization — build on bones
  • How readers think
The order of items is random. As you can see, I’m writing about a random item first. On any given day, I may write something from this list, or I may be inspired to write something else before I get to any or all of these items. In fact, I may never get to some of them at all. The important thing is, they are written down. Should the day come that I am due to write a blog post and Sarabelle is silent, my list will instantly pop a topic into focus.

You may also notice the informality. I use lots of dashes. Sometimes I underline. I generally stick to key words, but there is an index card attached to this list with a whole paragraph on it.

I assembled this list from a stack of index cards and paper scraps. I added the new ideas to the list I keep on the computer, because scraps of paper have a way of disappearing when I need them. I also have a list of personal story ideas, article ideas (in case I ever figure out where to submit one for publication), and quite a few half-finished stories, waiting for inspiration or the time to polish them up.

In spite of all this organization (I do take my own advice in this respect), I
m likely to write about something Ive recently heard or thought about when I sit down to blog. Thats okay ... the list is a safety net, not a mandate. That being said, if there is a particular item youd like to see a post about, please mention that in a comment. I love reader requests!

Caveat: If you make a list of story ideas, you give up the comfort of knowing you can procrastinate about writing by not having a story in mind, and you give up many rights to experience Writer
s Block.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

Countdown: 58 days until the release of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing on July 1. Stay tuned for ordering details.


a.m. said...

This is rather inspiring ... I guess I keep all of my future blogposts or story ideas in my head thinking I'll remember them all someday when I get around to them. Ha! You're so right about not having the procrastination factor ... you can't have Writer's Block if you're constantly on top of your list of possible story ideas. If only we held ourselves more accountable to that. Thanks!

Shawn Hansen said...

This is such great advice!

I used to think any idea solid enough to pursue would remain firmly planted in my brain, but one day I realized I could not recall a "great" idea I'd had a few days prior.

I suppose some might call it aging, but I don't think that's the case, nor do I believe any longer that ideas that slip one's mind were not worthy of pursuit.

I learned during last years NaNoWriMo just how powerful going with an idea can be. That endeavor also taught me how often a "silly" idea can take off in a direction that becomes well worth the pursuit.

Certainly, beyond the forgetting and the going for it, you are correct about having spare ideas making what feels like a chore (i.e. Writer's Block) an enjoyable endeavor.