Before the First Word: Idea Development

I’m writing a new story now, and it has me by the throat. I’m practically obsessed by the idea, which would probably get stuck in my whirling thoughts and go nowhere if it weren’t for a little trick I use.

It’s not terribly original: I write.

But I need a blank page. I need the freedom to make mistakes and think my idea out as I write or write as I think out my idea. I guess it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg thing.

This used to result in Word doc after Word doc floating around on my computer. But recently I’ve discovered a couple of great writer’s tools. Both free (my favorite four-letter word).

  • www.750words.com – This is a version of the “Morning Pages” suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. Only instead of long-hand in a journal, it’s online. The idea behind the 750 words is that Ms. Cameron suggests writing until you’ve filled three pages and three pages is…you guessed it: 750 words. After you set up a free account, simply begin writing. The counter lets you know when your brain-dump has reached the magic number. (I use this little technique to break through writer’s block too, or to think out a new plot twist.)
  • Evernote – I’m still getting my feet wet with this program. I’ve been waiting until I get my new computer to really dive in, but I can already see the possibilities. All my ideas, the webpages I’m using for research, all in one place. Hold on while I grab a napkin because I’m salivating here. Brilliant.

- Carey Clark

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