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.