(reprint from 2006)
There are two questions that I think all of us need to ponder at some point in our writing careers.
The first is: Where do you write?
I have found that the best place for me to write is sitting at my desk at home, gazing out over my large backyard of freshly mowed grass with the willow tree waving in the wind and the apple tree in full bloom. Okay, so the dandelions are in full bloom too, but hey, it’s a nice contrast to the green!
The point is, I can write just about anywhere. My favorite place just happens to be at my home desk. It’s a little harder to get lost in the storyline when I’m in a crowded airport or doctor’s office, but I get there eventually. I also do great writing at work when I don’t have anything else to do. (um, I hope no one at work reads this…)
The second is: Do you keep track of your ideas and file things away? Or, in other words, are you an organized person?
I have to be the first to admit NO to both of those–but I’m learning! I am finding it a distraction if I have piles of papers on my desk that need to be taken care of. However, the longer those piles sit there, the easier it is to ignore them! What I’m asking you to think about is where do you keep your story ideas? All the thoughts that are scribbles on napkins, the backs of receipts, pieces of your child’s construction paper, wedding reception envelopes, or in my daughter’s case, large spiral notebooks–where have you put them? All in one big pile on your desk where you can lose them? Stuffed in your purse or backpack where they get lost in no-man’s-land? Filed in your PDA and never downloaded to your computer?
Those are the precious gems that just might end up being your first published work! I’ve had several story ideas disappear simply because I didn’t have a chance to write them down, or lost them when I did. I’ve also lost ideas just because I couldn’t remember how I’d saved them on the computer. . .but let's not go there.
Organizing story ideas can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. All you need is a file folder (hopefully ALL of you have filing cabinets) and a label: Writing Ideas. Then you could have folders inside for how you want them separated, like plots, ideas, outlines, etc. Even if you have things saved on the computer I would recommend having hard copy in a file somewhere. You can never be too careful.
Initially I didn’t care if that part was organized–I hate filing and would toss things in there just to get onto something else–but I have since discovered the wisdom of organization. So, you’d have to make that choice. It comes down to how long you want to spend sorting through all those papers looking for something you vaguely remember putting away.
After all, how long do you want to take to find a plot outline you did last summer? You know, the perfect story involving a monkey, a jar of peanut butter and your neighbor’s kid? I mean, it’s a best seller in the making, isn’t it? Just where did I put that?