Monday, July 5, 2010

Project Notebook post #2: Brainstorm!

Finally! The next post. Life has a way of derailing the best of intentions.

Ok, so the next tab in my project notebook is the brainstorm section. Truly, for me, this is probably the most important part. Here's what I throw down into my brainstorming section:

plot ideas
ideas for character growth
snippets of conversation between characters
setting ideas
I ask myself questions (i.e. Why would Jane Doe have a reason to kill her mother?)
I answer my own questions. :-)

Basically, anything and EVERYTHING that could ever be relevant to the book goes into these pages. It's a hodge-podge collection of creative crap, I don't worry that my ideas are out of chronological order, I don't care that I have setting ideas mixed in with plot options. All of this stuff gets sorted out later in the Next Time Notes.

Let me say this, and I know it to be true because it's happened to me: IF YOU DON'T WRITE IT DOWN, YOU WILL FORGET IT. Let me repeat that for you. IF YOU DON'T WRITE IT DOWN, YOU WILL SO FREAKING FORGET IT! There have been times through the years that I've jotted an idea on a piece of paper, only to lose it and then have it resurface well after the book has been published. Turns out, I didn't remember to write it down again! When I lost it, the idea was gone from my brain. I didn't remember to put it into the book at all, and turns out, it would have been great! It's true. It's happened to me more than once. Please, for the love of all things holy, write your ideas down, even if they're small details. And if you jot it on the back of a receipt or something, hang on to that little piece of paper like it's gold until you can transcribe the idea into your project notebook.

All right, then. My goal is to post my ideas for Next Time Notes on Wednesday. In the meantime, BRAINSTORM, BRAINSTORM, BRAINSTORM!


Dustin said...

Great post Nancy. In a way, I'm a professional brainstormer. I do it everyday, both at work and when I'm writing. I want to echo your point of writing it down - there is nothing more important.

I also wanted to add something that I feel is equally important. Remember that there are NO BAD IDEAS! Nobody but you is going to read your project book so put anything that pops into your head in there.

I've been shocked how often concepts that I found insane at first lead to monumental breakthroughs later.

Great blog - keep it up :)

LeishaMaw said...

After your awesome presentation, I created project notebooks for all my WIPs. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Can I tell you how much I love them? They go everywhere with me and are loaded with more info than my brain, which isn't hard. :) So, anyway, Nancy, you are a genius. Thanks.

Karen Hoover said...

Can't wait to hear the rest! Thank you for sharing this. It helps to know what works for other people.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

My pleasure, Karen- how are things in your neck of the writing woods?

RaShelle said...

I've been thinking about your notebook idea since the last time I commented, thinking - I really need to pick me up a notebook. I haven't. Now I'm sitting here at my desk getting ready to work on my WIP. Off to my left is a manilla folder, the papers scattered all over (nothing is IN the manilla folder). *sigh* Yep, you are one smart cookie. Thanks for the amazing info.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Great point, Dustin. There are absolutely no bad ideas. Sometimes the weirdest are the best.

RaShelle, I'm smiling at the papers everywhere image. I've so been there. Sometimes still am when I have research stuff everywhere and can't find my desk.

Leisha, cool! I'm so glad this system is working for you. It's nice to have a portable idea repository. :-)

melissa said...

Hi Wendy,

Just wanted to say I love your blog. I'm a new author and I'm quickly realizing that I love having this new creative outlet. Thanks for you post. I'm now a follower her and I will be back for updates.

RaShelle said...

Hey Nancy,
I gave you a couple of awards. They are over on my blog.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Melissa- how cool to meet you! Welcome to this insane business. Thanks for your compliments!

RaShelle- eee! Thank you! I'll go collect my awards right now. :-)