As a writer and a creative, I have way too many ideas and too little time (as I tell myself). Therefore, I have to find ways to deal with them.
Write everything down. Including every version of the idea as it evolves, because it will.
I carry around a pocket-sized notebook when I can, but sometimes I get lazy. The Notes app on my iPhone is filled with notes. Random musings, last night’s dream in a few words, story prompts that read like haikus.
Select a few and entertain them in my head.
I look through my notes and organize my ideas. The Notes app also contains to-dos and grocery lists, which get deleted after they expire.
Review the ideas are just as important as coming up with them, and I would add new insights as I go.
If an idea was hastily jotted down, it would make little sense a few years later. However, if you review it in a few days, it would still be mostly fresh on your mind, and you can add more details to it to make it clear. Think of it as a convenience for later.
Focus on the main work-in-progress.
New ideas are always shiny and full of potential. My current WIP would look dull and used in the comparison. Feel free to run with the latest idea, but if I do, I never end up finishing anything.
To me, the key is to focus on my current work and get it finished. Even though it’s not perfect, at least it is completed. A completed content is out of my head and onto paper, but an idea, no matter how full of potential it is, is in my head.
Combine ideas into one.
You can combine similar ones and save space in your document. Ideas for the same project should be grouped together, tagged, or put into a “WIP idea” document.
Another thing I often do was combine interesting but different concepts together to create an idea for a larger project, such as a novel. It would have depth and multitude. It would be weaved with subplots, character developments, and also challenge the tropes.
Decide what idea is for what.
When I get ideas for new stories, I go on to decide which is a short story and which is a novel. Short stories make it really easy if you just want to get the story down in a few thousand words, and it’s a complete project.
Novels could take months even years to write, and I don’t have time to write a few hundred novels.
Flesh out the idea, but still keep it contained.
If I don’t have time but still want to expand on an idea, I write micro pieces. They are usually a scene, a few lines of dialogs, a description of an environment.
The point is to get the idea out and make them into usable snippets, which is what I name the document that contains these, “Usable Snippets”.
Sit on them. Come back to them a month later, or a year. Sometimes I fill in or edit the prose, because my prose had improved with time.
Sometimes the snippet has stood up with the test of time, and I can just copy and paste it into the correct spot of my WIP.
Starve your brain if you don’t want to get more ideas, just for a while.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. If you really want to, you can stop yourself from getting more ideas. When reading, don’t be distracted by great concepts. Focus on the prose and languages. You can improve your writing skills without getting more ideas.
When listening to music, listen to it. Don’t analyze the lyrics and dream of the stories they hold. Listen to the rhythm, the beats.
When out for a walk, look at the colors of the trees, the shape of the hills. Live in the moment. Not in your head and in an imaginary world.
Document dreams and therefore have more ideas.
My dreams are usually really interesting. I dream every night, sometimes 3–4 dreams per night. I only write down the best or better ones, and of course, I had to remember them first. Oftentimes they just vanish from the first second I woke up.
Go out and find more ideas.
Ideas are cheap. Investing in even one takes energy. The execution is key.
I read through my idea document regularly, and add to it regularly. I separate the good ones from the others, but never delete anything. Anything.
Do regular braindumps.
Get things out of your head and onto paper. Clear your head. Disk capacity is cheap, brain space is not. And who knows, what if something were to happen to you and you suffer from memory loss or worse, but you’d still have your ideas recorded and ready to be executed.
But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.