On Writing: Capturing Your Ideas (Before It’s Too Late!)

Hoo boy. Circled back to a project because I felt like I could make some forward progress, and discovered I never finished the outline. I have no idea how I was planning on finishing this story; the only hints I have are the songs in the playlist I made. I use playlists as a sort of proto-outline, helping me shape the feel of the story before I have to make any concrete decisions. I realize that it’s kind of like doing all of the soundtrack work for a movie before you have a script, but it works for me.

As you might be able to tell by the screen cap above, this story is heavily influenced by the band Fleetwood Mac, and in particular the rocky relationship between singer Stevie Nicks and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. Unlike their relationship, though, this book has to have a Happily Ever After (being a romance and all) and I definitely don’t remember how I was planning on getting there. I’m tempted just to start writing and pants it from the last plot point I had. Maybe I’ll end up in the place I originally came up with, maybe I won’t.

I need to get better in general about sketching out my ideas. I have ADHD, and that manifests in jumping from project to project, making a little bit of progress each time I come back. Usually I have a sense of what I was working towards in a project, but it’s clear I can’t just rely on memory to store my ideas anymore. I need to set aside some time to write down my plans for all of my current projects, which means setting up a system and sticking to it (one of my big downfalls lol).

I’m tempted to borrow Warren Ellis‘s system of giving every project a notebook of its own; just a simple cahier for the ideas I’ve actually started drafting, and a more central notebook for orphan ideas. I want to believe I think better through a keyboard, but I know that going analogue makes getting the ideas out of my brain easier. Plus, it’s an excuse to do every writer’s favorite activity: buying notebooks!

OK, I’ve gotten to the end of this playlist, and I still have no idea what I was thinking previously about this rock star romance. Take this as a reminder to finish your outlines before you walk away from them. You never know when you’ll need them again.

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