Recently, I moved to a new house which means that I get to plant things! Now, I am completely terrible at growing things; I will say this up front. I have a list of 100 things to do before I die, and “keep a plant alive for a month” was on the list. I did manage once, but after two months, it died inexplicably. This is not a great omen, but I went out and bought a few plants anyway. We’ll see what comes of it. The point of this is that growing plants is a lot like writing a novel. Thankfully, my black thumb doesn’t translate to writing.
When the seed of an idea is planted, you really do need to nurture it or chances are, it’ll die. I often complain of not having new ideas, but the truth is, I do get ideas then fail to write them down or develop them beyond the, “wouldn’t it be a great story if…” Some people keep idea journals. Others keep lists in files. I do neither. Mostly because I have so many notebooks that I won’t remember where I wrote it down, and because I’m lazy.
Developing a story is more than just having an idea and remembering to write it down. Of course, not all ideas become novels or stories. Some just lounge around as something you could write but never will. It’s nice to have backup. The ideas that do become novels have to be cared for – developed, nurtured, grown into something more than a what-if situation. There are lots of different ways to do this. Some people start with the plot. Others start with the characters. Some use spreadsheets, lists, graphs. However you do it, the important part is to not let those ideas linger and rot.
Sure, you’ll never write all the ideas you have, but it’s useful to have them around when there’s nothing else to do and you’re looking for some inspiration!