Saving Ideas For Later

Hello, faithful readers! *laugh*

It’s been a crazy couple of months, and there’s a good chance there’s at least another month or so of crazy ahead of me. But I’ve been reworking aspects of a favorite project and chatting with a fellow Lit deviant, and the two together have intersected to drive me out of hiding. But before I jump into that, I want to start with something else – the beginning of the story, literally in this case. I want to start by talking about appropriate hoarding for writers, because without that, none of my current work would exist (or be as interesting).

As writers, we’re in a position to observe and comment on the world in ways anyone but a visual artist would never think to see. But it’s a big world. There’s a lot to see. And so much of what we ourselves are willing to see is shaped and filtered by our own experiences and interests. It’s necessary to be able to store that tidal wave of interesting information, what we writers like to call “material”, in a way that allows us to revisit it in quieter, more reflective times and to use it to our creative benefit.

Some people call this their Swipe File – a place where they can jot down notes about things they’ve seen, conversations they’ve heard. A place to store interesting writing prompts, pictures, song lyrics, videos. It’s even a place where they can store story ideas rattling around in their head, keeping them awake at night. In fact, there’s absolutely nothing that doesn’t belong in a Swipe File, as long as it catches your interest or sparks your thinking or creativity in some way, and it absolutely should not look like anyone else’s Swipe File. This is what inspires you.

In my case, my Swipe File is a section of Evernote lovingly labeled “Percolator”. I call it that for a very good reason – to remind myself to periodically lose myself in the hundreds of things I’ve collected over the years. A Swipe File isn’t meant to be a vault. The contents “percolate” until the writer is ready to use them. Having them in one place, not sorted by type, I’m able to “flip through” and see if anything catches my eye. I can start drawing connections between notes and start organizing them into the base for a writing project that’s interesting and ready to be layered. I find it quite inspiring (and distracting when I flip through it mid-project, but it can help shake the feeling of being stuck).

It doesn’t matter what format you use to build your own Swipe File, or even what you call it. What’s important is that you save anything you find interesting to it and that you review it regularly, looking for interesting connections and sparks of inspiration.

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