Do YOU keep an idea box? Why or why not? And if so, how has the idea box helped you grow as a writer?
I do not keep an idea box, however, I keep an idea book. I used to always keep a journal, but it morphed into an idea book over the last few years. I keep it for all the reasons that writers tell you to keep one if you are serious about writing, to write down my ideas as they occur because sometimes hours can pass between the occurrence of an idea and the opportunity to sit down and expand upon it. If I write down a word or phrase that will remind me later, it helps so much.
How has it helped me grow as a writer? Well, having ideas written down to look at certainly helps when it is time to choose a topic to write about each day for the blog. A lot of times I write about the suggested topic, but sometimes I don’t like the topic, or it has no meaning for me, so I use something from my book.
Where do the ideas come from? Many places. Usually just out of my head, or sometimes if I am listening to someone talk, a word or phrase that they say triggers an idea. It’s either something directly attached to what they said, or my mind goes off on a tangent that later leads to something else.
I used to have trouble coming up with topics to write about, but not anymore. I think the time-honored suggestion of practicing to get better at something works for writing. I have heard the suggestion, “just start writing!” more times than I can count, but only recently took it to heart.
I have a lot of ideas on my own lately, but if I draw a blank, I like to open a book and find a sentence or paragraph that sets my imagination in motion. Oddly enough, the most recent “best idea book” I’ve been using is a high school literature book! I find the stories quite good, and I like all the “activities” that accompany them as well as the explanations of various literary techniques.
I have often said that I find it difficult to teach those things because for me it’s like breathing, I just know it, or do it. I can’t explain how, although I am getting better at trying to articulate the process. I was born with superior language skills, and once in a while I get a student who has that gift as well. I like it when that happens because then I don’t feel so isolated! My students sometimes say things that lead to a concept for a book, or a spark of an idea that I can run with. They inspire me in so many ways.
So, for me, the idea book is an invaluable resource for a writer. It’s whatever works best for you!