How To Organize Your Ideas – 5 Steps For Writers

Whether you’re a newbie writer or a veteran, you’re probably always coming up with new ideas for a story. Which means, you’re going to need a way to organize all those thoughts.

So below, I’m going to demonstrate the five steps I use to organize my ideas and hopefully it can help you in one way or another.

Make Folders

I like to use my laptop to organize my ideas and keep backup files on USB drives.

The best way I can suggest for you to organize your thoughts and ideas are to make folders. Mine are organized like so in the image below.

I have a folder for the stories I want to write, the music I listen to which creates the mood I like to recreate for a scene, and a folder dedicated to images I like to use as references for characters and settings.

The reason you want to keep organized is so your thoughts aren’t clouded with so many things at once. And believe me, having them written down is much better than keeping them all inside your head.

Categorize Them

Keeping each idea in a category is necessary for me.

I like to keep the stories I’m working on separate from those that haven’t been fleshed out. Therefore, I have different folders for the story I’m currently working on, stories that are waiting to be worked on, and stories that have a concrete plot but needs to be fleshed out more.

My folder categories are shown below.

Separate Each Type of Idea

For thoughts that are ideas only and aren’t a fully fleshed out story idea, I put them into a document all on their own.

Sometimes, I’ll have an idea for a plot, a character I want to write about, or just a single line of dialogue I hope to use in a story.

These are all put into separate Word documents. I used to put them all into a single document, but when I would go over them, it was just too much to look at and too unorganized for my taste. If I wanted to look over ideas I had for a character, those ideas would be scattered among plot ideas, setting ideas, and dialogue ideas.

So now, they’re all separated into their own document. That way, if I wanted to look over plot ideas, I can access them all in one place.

Go Over Them

Speaking of going over my ideas, I highly suggest you do the same for yours.

You’re a creative individual. I’m sure there are moments when you have a quick burst of ideas and can brainstorm ten pages worth of content for a story, and other times, you’ll only have an idea for a character or setting you want to put into a story.

No matter the case, once you start building up your ideas, you might find yourself with pages and pages of character ideas, plot ideas, etc.

I recommend you schedule a time to go over all those ideas, pick out the promising ones that have potential to become a full story, and scrap those you no longer like.

Some writers don’t think you should scrap ideas you may never use and suggest you keep them even if they’ll end up in a file you won’t ever open again. But I like to delete them. If there’s a character or plot idea I no longer like once I go over it, I just delete it from the page. It’s really up to you though.

Be Picky About What To Flesh Out

One reason you want to go over your ideas and pick the promising ones is so you can flesh them out.

The other reason is so you’re not overwhelming yourself with working on different stories at the same time.

I’ve heard from a few other writer friends who struggle with wanting to write two or three different stories all at the same time, because they just can’t choose which one to work on most. And with ideas generating in their heads all the time, I understand.

I have a bunch of ideas I’d like to turn into a story, but I also like to focus on finishing one story before working on the next. Which is why I suggest fleshing out only the most promising ideas.

By promising, I mean the ideas that matter most to you and you wouldn’t mind working on it for a long period. Once you figure that out, stick only with that story. If a new idea comes to your head, write it down and file it away so you can get back to writing your current story.

The story I’m currently working on is titled The Advocate’s Corridor. And I have all the ideas for this story fleshed out in its own folder.

Be very picky about which idea you want to stick with, because once you choose it, you should probably stay dedicated to it until you finish. While it’s okay to work on different stories at the same time, I personally find it way too much to handle. Sticking with one before working on the other works for me, and you need to find what works for you.

And there you have it, the five steps I use to organize my story ideas.

Did you find any of these tips useful? How do you like to organize your story ideas? Leave some tips below and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Also, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them below and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you.

Regards, BK Scotther

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