One of the best tips for any writer is to always write down your ideas. That's why writers usually carry little notebooks with them everywhere they go but I have to confess that I'll use my phone or write on the back of a receipt because I don't like to add more weight to my handbag.
I'm often asked if I keep a notepad by my bedside, and I'm ashamed to say that the answer is no. If an idea is so strong it always lasts until the morning Or I just get up in the middle of the night and write it down. Sometimes I only need to write a few words and it will call forth the idea in the light of day.
But I have lots of ideas written down.
I have a folder in my filing cabinet. Inside is an eclectic mix of story ideas. Some are written on the back of business cards, pages torn out of journals, some of the pages are that lovely yellow colouring that tells me these were written while I was in my 20s. I even have cuttings from newspaper of articles that have ignited an idea. I haven't done it for a while but one of my favourite things to do on a Sunday was drink the morning coffee and cut out story ideas from the newspaper.
Technology is great. I also have plenty of story ideas on the computer. Yet somehow they don't evoke the same pleasure as rummaging through a drawer full of ideas so maybe my task this week is to print out these ideas and place them in the drawer.
I never toss these ideas out until I've turned them into a story. Like I did this week.
I found a magazine that I wanted to write a short story for. The problem is that I write novels and I have a hard time trying to write a snippet of a character's life. So I opened up the folder and had a look through the old ideas. And I found one. A story about lies and someone seeking payback for one of the lies.
I wrote 4000 words in one day! The story just flowed and it was done and submitted within two days of starting.
So the moral of this story is always write down your ideas. You just never know when you'll turn them into a magical tale.