Rediscovery within the idea factory

Where output is a 24/7 operation
Where output is a 24/7 operation

Where do you keep your collection of story ideas? A folder stashed away somewhere in your home office? A notebook tucked away on a bookshelf?  A flash drive lost amidst the clutter on that messy desk you keep telling yourself you’re going to eventually get around to cleaning?

No matter where it is, hopefully you still have it and have been contributing to it all this time.  The stuff you came up with way back when with the intention of getting back to it someday.

When was the last time you looked at any of them?  How much did you work on this or that before moving on?

It might just be a title, a logline, or a single paragraph. Take a closer look. How do they read now?

Does your mind still race about the possibilities of what could happen? Do you read it and think “I barely (or don’t) remember writing any of this,” or (hopefully) “This is a lot better than I remember.” Do you make a mental note that this has to be your next project?

Sometimes the ideas we come up with are better than we realize. The initial effort might not be what we’re hoping for, but  the idea or concept behind it is so strong – that’s what really appeals to us; it really drives us and motivates us to explore it further. Some may jump right into reworking it, while others file it away – “I’ll hold on to this.”

Maybe all you really needed were time and experience. Aren’t we all better writers than we were, say, a year or two ago?

Last week I wrote about working on two projects. While I wait for feedback on each in their current state, I turned my attention to the outline of a story I came up with about five or six years ago.

Much to my surprise, there were two outlines: the original, and then a semi-rewrite from two years after that. I skimmed through both. I prefer the second one, but there are definitely elements from the first I can incorporate into a new version.

There’s nothing like finding some of your old material and not just enjoying it, but seeing its potential and looking forward to working on it.

(As much as I’d like to add this into the mix, it’s probably better to not overdo it. I’ll focus on the other two, then move on to this one.)

So dig around and find your ideas from days gone by. You might even be surprised and potentially impressed with what you find.

4 thoughts on “Rediscovery within the idea factory

  1. It’s a gradual thing. Start wide, and narrow your focus as you go.

    I figure out the main plot points (inciting incident, 1st Act turning point, etc), then fill in the blanks between them. It takes a while to fine-tune, and the more I work out the story details, the more detailed each scene description becomes.

  2. Excellent post and great advice. A script I swore I would never touch has now been molded into my personal favourite 5 years later.

    I started a personal challenge on my site–a logline a day–to keep my creativity up even on those days when I’m feeling tapped. Story ideas beget story ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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