I write a lot and in many areas: magazine columns, newsletters, multiple blogs, non-fiction books, memoirs, and I recently added short stories. But this doesn’t sap my creativity; I still have more ideas than the time to explore them.
Here’s how I fuel my writing:
Keep a List of Blog Ideas: I have a running Word file of concepts for posts. Whenever a thought comes to me, I jot it down on whatever is available and transfer it to my blog file. Some ideas are immediately useful and some evolve over time, while a few fail to materialize. With this list, I always have a starting point for my next post.
Maintain a File of Book Concepts: I also have a running list of book ideas, which currently exceeds four dozen. It has a list of working titles, along with a premise, logline, or theme. As the idea blooms, I start a separate folder to collect a growing body of ideas and resources for that book. Soon an outline follows. When I contemplate my next book, I simply pick the most developed or promising item on my list.
Record Every Presentation: I don’t often speak publically, but when I do, I always record it. This isn’t because of ego but because my words may be a basis for a book. If so, I simply have the file transcribed, and I edit as needed. An hour of audio roughly equates to 10,000 words.
Save All Cuts: Each time I remove a scene from a book, a section from an article, or a paragraph from a post, I keep it. It may come in handy one day. Often it becomes the basis for another book, article, or post. Whatever I cut, I always save.
File Every Published Work: Once I publish something, that’s not the end; it may be the beginning. Books can come out in different forms or formats; articles may be reworked; posts can be repurposed. I never want to recreate when I can tap something already finished. (There are legal and ethical limits to this, so proceed carefully.)
Retain All Non-Published Work: Just because I can’t find a home for something now, doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It could be the timing’s off, the right outlet hasn’t been found – or formed, or the audience is temporarily looking elsewhere. Perhaps I need to set it aside for later tweaking. Regardless, I never delete or dismiss it. Sometime, somewhere readers will be waiting – and I want to be ready.
By implementing these steps, I always have ideas on what to write.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.