I think I've written about this before, but it's so important I feel the need to write about it again.
The idea journal.
Every writer, or aspiring writer, should have an idea journal. (Yes, even you.) The idea journal is a little notebook, or twelve little notebooks, as long as you remember where they are, that you keep with you at all times so whenever you're struck with an idea for a story you can write it down.
Picture this: You're reading a book or watching a TV show, and a character says or does something and your imagination starts running. "That's not a bad idea," you say to yourself. "I'll have to remember that." But the next day, you don't, and you kick yourself for forgetting what could have been an awesome story.
That's where the idea journal comes in.
Yes, I'm not going to lie, the idea journal is a pain in the butt. A serious pain in the butt. To stop whatever you're doing so you can write something down is annoying. But you'll thank yourself later, sometimes years later, when you go back and you have that little gem of an idea that you can suddenly expound upon. Trust me on this one. The Wrong Path is a combination of me playing with character types and an idea I wrote down in my idea journal 10+ years ago. (Seriously!)
If you don't have an idea journal, get one. Get a notebook you love, because you're going to be carrying it with you everywhere. And, if you're super into technology, get an app on your phone that's like a diary app. Serves the same purpose! (Just make sure you print/save somewhere the ideas--never know when you're going to upgrade the phone and you don't want to lose your ideas, do you?)
Earlier today I got an idea and quickly jotted down in my journal this:
Kids share connected dreams--what does it mean, and why does no one look like they do in real life?
What's it mean? Who knows? Where will it go? Who knows? The beauty of the idea journal! But maybe in a few years, you'll be seeing that book from me. And you can say you remember when I got the idea...