“Discovery favors the well-prepared mind.”  -Jerome Bruner  

Thanks to an Amazon birthday gift card (thanks Mom & Steve!) I recently purchased Where Do You Get Your Ideas? A Writer’s Guide to Transforming Notions Into Narratives, by Fred White.

I’ve yet to dive in but admit I couldn’t resist dipping my toes into page 31. The subject? Capturing Ideas In Your Writer’s Notebook. 

Writing down your thoughts, however amorphous, is important because the very effort to capture ideas in words helps to develop them. One of the most fascinating things about becoming an active idea hunter is that very act of hunting for ideas will sharpen both your observational skills and your imaginative skills. Work hard to cultivate the habit of writing down the ideas you’ve hunted down, even before you begin assessing their story potential.


One idea: Here’s an opportunity to practice idea recognition while simultaneously doing housework: Find a cluttered closet, junk drawer, or corner of your attic, basement, or garage and organize it. As you do so, see how many potential story ideas you can recognize in the items you come across. Here are two examples from a closet purging to get you going:

  • Old musical audiotapes from a long-forgotten jazz quartet. Possible idea: What if a jazz enthusiast, recognizing the exceptional talent of this group, sets out to find the individual musicians and reunite them?
  • A cache of holiday greetings from twenty years ago, some from friends and relatives you haven’t heard from since or have since fallen out of favor. Possible idea: What would happen if your main character attempted to reestablish a close friendship (implicit in one of the old greeting cards) that had gone sour for some reason?

How and where do YOU capture ideas? 

I’ve much to learn but you’ll rarely find me without this in a nearby pocket. In it, you’ll find random ideas, quirky words/phrases, and mini notes from Marcia Moston’s devotions, given every month in our writer’s meeting. 

Now to transform my notions into narratives!