Gathering One’s Thoughts

John Green quote
Writer’s block creeps into your day like a fog over your ideas; you can feel something lurking below but can’t manage to find the words or the concepts or anything that doesn’t beg to be balled up and tossed into the trash.

Speaking of that, how lovely to type away on an actual typewriter and have a balled collection of the wrong words to toss. Something about the racing backspace or the delete button doesn’t seem nearly as satisfying. But I digress …

The opposite of writer’s block can be frustrating as well: bubbling ideas and snips of plot lines, characters yelling in your brain and one nestled in the corner of your heart and whispering just quietly enough that you can’t hear. John Green writes: “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.”

I know that feeling, crowded ideas pushing at each other, all of them bright and beautiful and none of them amounting to anything but beautiful light on their own. When inspiration becomes noise in my head, I grab my notebook, my phone, or a piece of an old grocery list and start making notes and scribbling away. Sometimes those notes become fodder for the literal recycling pile in my kitchen, but sometimes they become story ideas or character sketches.

And building constellations from stars can be the most satisfying type of writing.

How do you harness your ideas when they’re coming at you from all sides?

4 Responses to Gathering One’s Thoughts
  1. Roxanne
    January 2, 2013 | 8:54 am

    On the go, I like to use Evernote on my phone to keep track of my ‘stars’. But I’ve been known to scribble on the back of the power bill or whatever scrap of paper is found floating about.

  2. @bluenotebacker
    January 2, 2013 | 11:46 am

    I usually try to jot down whatever seed of an idea I have, either in a notebook, or in an email to myself, or using an app like Evernote. Sometimes I’ll go as far as to start a draft of an actual post and just save it there to edit/complete later.

  3. Jack
    January 2, 2013 | 5:52 pm

    Another vote for Evernote – I put everything in there, from WIPs to random ideas while I’m out. The app on my phone makes it easy to have everywhere.

  4. L. M.
    January 11, 2013 | 8:12 am

    I almost always have a notebook or scrap of paper handy. If I don’t, I usually have my mp3 player in my bag and I’ll use the voice record function to dictate notes or actual narrative to myself.