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Keep an Idea and Inspiration Notebook

by Amy O'Quinn


Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a BIG idea, only to forget the details by morning?


Do you overhear a precious snippet of dialogue between preschoolers at the playground and think it would be perfect for your new book?


Do you create cool characters, names, settings, or develop story ideas while doing dishes or taking a shower?


Do you brainstorm writing goals and dreams or love to find and jot down inspirational quotes?


If you are a writer, it’s safe to say that you do all these things and more.


However, you’ve also probably lost more ideas than you’ve captured because you didn’t write them down! Or if you did scribble your thoughts, perhaps they languished on little scraps of paper that eventually ended up in the trashcan.


Keep an Idea and Inspiration Notebook


That’s why it is important to keep a writing ‘idea and inspiration’ notebook handy so you can record all your wonderful thoughts and ideas in a safe place! And yes, even though it’s the digital age and everyone uses computers for everything, there is still something to be said about a having a ‘hard copy’ edition in which to write down thoughts, plans, and ideas.


Keeping Tabs

Setting up a writing notebook can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. But perhaps the easiest (and most inexpensive) version is a spiral composition book or three-ring binder with tabbed dividers to mark sections. Some ideas for sections are:



What do you want to accomplish?


Writing Schedules—

If you put it in writing, you’re more likely to follow through.


Story, Article, or Book Ideas—

Capture them while they’re fresh on your mind. Characters/Traits/Personality—Have you met any interesting folks lately? How did they look or act? Did they have a quirky personality? You might even include photos of people who spark ideas for characters! Remember, this is YOUR catch-all book of ideas and inspiration.



If you hear names (first or last) that tickle your fancy, write them down.



Record ideas for places and settings. Note the sights and sounds of the Italian café where you sipped that delicious cappuccino—or describe the fading beauty of the old farmhouse that sits at the end of the dirt road.



You think you’ll never forget that brilliant plot idea, but you might. Get it in writing!



This can be overheard or created in your own mind. However, sometimes truth (and other peoples’ dialogue) is funnier and stranger than fiction.


Fun Words and Phrases—

When you read or hear that special ‘turn of phrase’ or a clever way of putting something, jot it down. Keep a running list.



Perhaps you like to collect quotes or sayings for your work or simply for your own amusement and inspiration. In my opinion, some of the best quotes of all time have come from writers!


For example:

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald


Make It Yours


There is no one right way to create a writing notebook, and the possibilities are endless.

You can tweak, adjust, and add or remove tabs and sections as needed.

But whatever notebook system or design you decide upon, make it yours!

Keep it close by and use it.

You’ll be glad that you have all your thoughts and ideas recorded in one place.

And as you fill up one notebook, start another.


Tip: It’s a good idea to write the starting and ending dates on the covers.


Just imagine having an awesome resource and reference to open and use whenever you need a fresh idea for a plot, setting, name, character, etc. A writing notebook is golden. It’s a true treasure trove for the writer who takes time to jot down important, relevant, and inspirational thoughts, ideas, and informational tidbits before they are lost or forgotten.


What are you waiting for?


If you don’t have a writing notebook, start one today!




*Article originally appeared on The Work Writer's Club website HERE.






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