Monday, December 5, 2011

Sort, Group, Prioritize

Week of December 4—What Do I Do With All These Ideas?!
Monday, December 5—Sort, Group, Prioritize

When it comes to taking writing ideas to the next level, there’s no right or wrong way. This is one of those things where you feel your way along and do (as I like to say) the next right thing. I’ll share my process with you. Take what you can use, and leave the rest.

I keep all my writing ideas in bound notebooks. (Imagine a tablet with a hardcover.) That’s also where I scribble notes, glue clippings that might inspire a story, collect snippets of dialogue, and so on. But I couldn’t find a way to organize and sort through my ideas in their current format. So-o-o-o-o, I rewrote each idea on a notecard. (Yes, I know, very non-high tech.) When I was finished, I had 59 cards and hand cramps.

As I thumbed through my cards, I immediately saw two categories—ideas with titles and brief descriptions and ideas with titles only. So my first sorting of cards was into those two categories. I found 39 ideas with titles and descriptions (and the descriptions varied in length and detail) and another 21 cards with just titles (kernels of ideas).

When I flipped through my cards for the first sort, I noticed some words coming up multiple times—knights, birds, Christmas, and topics with new babies/new big brothers and sisters for instance. I decided to link together (aka: staple) cards with similar ideas, themes, or motifs.

My knight ideas definitely compliment one another . STAPLE! The topics about new babies and new brothers and sisters are really all on the same track. STAPLE! My Christmas ideas are each different and unique. No staple needed. After stapling, I had 34 cards in the ideas pile and 17 cards in my title stack.

I’m not ready to abandon any of my ideas yet. But I think can I begin to prioritize my stack from most interesting to least interesting. (I realize that most of my cards will fall somewhere in the middle.) Keep in mind that this is my first stab at prioritizing and I reserve the right to reprioritize later!

It’s Your Turn!
1. Begin to shuffle through your ideas. Don’t let that stack rest in your notebook. Sort ‘em! Group ‘em! And prioritize ‘em!

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