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Writing Tips - How to make great ideas stick!

Updated on December 29, 2016

“Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” ― Sue Grafton

Oh Sue, all that detective writing has made you one wise woman! I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to pick your brain but since I can't I'll just quote you.

Every writer has woken up once or twice (assuming they can go to sleep in the first place) in the middle of the night with an amazing idea, sometimes, one idea is so grand that you can develop multiple stories from it but developing it is not always so simple. Although making ideas stick seem like a science, in reality it's not.

Think about a small capsule, imagine that what will help you get better or make your amazing ideas stick is inside that capsule. For me, the capsule is the book. The idea IS the story and in order to make that story stick you need to stick to your story.

When we start thinking of all the endless possibilities that an idea has we tend to stray away from the core of what got us writing in the first place, at least that's what happens to me. And if it happens to me chances are I am not the only writer struggling with this.

I have been writing a novel for the past 4 years and I just can't get it finished because every time I start a new chapter a new idea comes along that changes the direction of where I wanted the story to go, but I think that is the whole purpose of writing. Yes ideas come and go but we don't know how to let the ideas that go, well, go (not to be redundant here but I'm sure you get what I mean).

Idea is defined as a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action; the aim or purpose.

So what do you do when you have multiple ideas? Take them and separate them into categories, choose the best one and run with it. When other ideas start floating do the same thing. Create a bucket for the idea you had primarily chosen and put all other ideas that match it in there. Use those to elaborate your story or shift it to a different direction.

The most important part of an idea is keeping that purpose clear. Yes it's a thought but a thought is not a verb, purpose however is the drive to action and action is what finishes a story. So how do you make a great idea stick? _________________________________. If you said by sticking to the idea then you've been paying attention. If you didn't get the answer right then you obviously just breezed through the third paragraph but that's okay because now I give you a few tips on how to stick to the idea.

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death. [Remarks Recorded for the Opening of a USIA Transmitter]


How to stick to your idea.

If you click on the image above it'll take you to another great blog post about how to put your ideas in action. Below I'm going to show you what works for me.

When I get a flow of ideas, after I write them down and separate them into categories I choose the one that better fits my story (or article or post or poem or whatever else I may be working on) and I take the idea apart to see when and where I can incorporate and expand on it. One of the things that has helped me a lot is exercising.

Yes I said exercise! Don't be afraid it's not the kind of exercise that makes you sweat, it's the kind that stimulates your brain. Like many other writers I know I'm subscribed to Writer's Digest, not just because they are a great source of information but because they are also a great source to help improve writing. And the better you write the more readers you get and the more you succeed in your career.

I just recently subscribed and the difference it has made for me is astonishing. Let me show you how their exercises work for me.

In the free issue they gave me when I subscribed there was a workbook with exercises and one of there exercises read like this: Read the setup for each prompt. Then pick a number between one and 10. Write it down—to keep yourself honest—then flip to page 68 and find the information that corresponds to your number. Now, WRITE!

The category I picked was titled DATED and the instructions were: "You have just been abandoned by your date. Tell the story. Start with: No matter what I do ..." When I flipped to page 68 I found this: "This is an idiomatic expression you must use in your story.

[7] The apple of my eye." (this is the number I chose)

So I began to write: No matter what I do I simply can't get his attention. At first when he began skipping dinner and coming home late I thought the heavy work load season started early but now I'm not quite sure. I spoke to him about it, I told him that I missed him, I made a conscious effort to not pick fights, I dressed nice, still made him dinner, I even tried surprising him at work but nothing has helped. I feel like I have tired everything I can to remind him that he's the apple of my eye, the reason I wake up everyday with hope and love and excitement. The reason I look at my children's eyes and feel pride. He's my everything and I feel like I'm losing him.

Then I took that verse and noticed that it went perfectly with the story I have been writing. Not only did this exercise help me develop a background story for my main character but it also helped me place my own ideas within this structure and organize them into something amazing!

Another thing that helps me is making an outline. If I have multiple ideas for a piece I want to write about I take the ideas under that category and place them in an outline. If I were to use all of these ideas in what chronological order would they go? How can one idea transition into the other without losing the meaning of what I want to say?

Oftentimes the outline alone already creates the majority of the context you want to use. Ultimately there are many ways in which you can make your ideas stick, but if you don't organize yourself you will find it hard to stick to your idea and if you don't stick to your idea, your idea will find it hard to stick... Yeah I am not even sure if that fully makes sense either but hey my juices are flowing so why not let them spill.... lol

All jokes aside COMMITMENT is the key to everyone's success. Look for the resources that best fit you and your way of working and let the words take their course. Oh and if you haven't subscribed to Writer's Digest yet please do it now, you will NOT regret it!

Happy Writing!!!

Do you think that COMMITMENT holds more weight than ORGANIZATION or are they both equally important?

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    • exposed2create profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Jeanette Perez 

      3 years ago from Coconut Creek, FL

      Thank You for commenting. I agree with you as well. Extremes are always a bad thing. If you overthink it you can kill the story but at the same time if you don't organize your ideas the story can end up going into all sorts of different directions. And although some may argue that different directions is not a bad thing -"write the story that wants to be told" - some stories are way too complicated to explain in a way that the masses can easily understand.

      I believe you need to brainstorming and organize your ideas before they become the story and in this way, since the ideas are organized you can just use them as checkpoints. This way you're writing a story that wants to be told without the distractions.

      Thanks again for commenting!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      When it comes to my fiction writing I am more of an archaeologist than an engineer, and as a matter of fact I am writing an article on that right now with that same title. Digressions are good, and these ideas that come to you in the middle of the night should be incorporated into your story. They are from your muse, whispering in your ear while you sleep. Steinbeck said that we have to open up the book and let the stories crawl in. My belief is that too much organization is the death of a story, but that's just my opinion. Great tips, and I can relate to a lot of what you are saying.


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