Writing Advice Corner – How to capture the runaway idea… before it runs away

Me, when I forget about a potentially genius plot bunny.
Me, when I forget about a potentially genius plot bunny.

Writing erotica can sometimes be a task of Sisyphean proportions. At least, that’s what it feels like if you’ve just found yourself rewriting one sentence for the fifth time because you’re not sure if legs can keep up this particular position for that long. Things like that, little sneaky things creeping up in the middle of a seemingly innocent sentence, can throw you off guard when you least expect it. Some, in the grand scheme of your story, are easy to fix (change a word, add a sentence, there you go). Others are like the one domino tile that won’t stay up – when you take it out (or leave it in), your entire story collapses and you’re left wondering what the hell to do to get the tiles back up.

Another sneaky thing that happens (and trust me, this happens more than I care to admit) is the runaway idea. It’s what I wanted to write about today because I know for a fact that every writer will have this at multiple points in their life… or week, even.

You all know what I’m talking about. That idea that pops into your head – THE best idea you’ve ever had in your whole life EVAR – at the exact moment you don’t have anything at hand to write it down on. The idea that, after a couple of hours of going on with the rest of your day and promising yourself that you’ll write it down as soon as you can, is no longer there. And when you realize it’s no longer there, you will let out a huge groan because it was a bloody fantastic idea and you feel like an idiot for not writing it down.

I had it earlier this week. It was an amazing idea for a lesbian erotica story, which kinda turned me on thinking about it. About four hours later, as I set up my computer, I realized to my horror that I couldn’t remember the amazing idea that turned me on so much. And that was the catalyst for this post. Here are a couple of tips to get that runaway idea and grab it by the scruff of its inspirational neck before it leaves your head. Tips that… well, I should really start following because I’m not exactly the best at it. Again, as with all my tip posts, you take from it what you want and adapt to your situation.

1) Don’t try and remember the entire idea.

Instead, break it up in keywords, like you’d do if you were doing a presentation. Repeat them to yourself in your head a couple of times so you’re familiar with the sounds of the words. If you have to remember a big block of sentences, you’ll forget the idea quicker.

2) Keep some form of note-taking device in your bag.

Not just the old-time classic of a notebook and a pen. Not everyone has space in their bags to accommodate a big notebook, and not everyone has time to whip it out and write it down. I’m a big fan of jotter pads myself, which can fit into most bags (probably 99% of bags, really) and take not much effort to get out and put back in. If you’re really cramped for space (like on a busy commute) your smartphone is your saviour. There are plenty of apps for both Android and iOS that will help you with keeping that idea safe for the time being.

3) And speaking of busy commutes…

Say it’s Monday morning. You’re shuffling along, trying to get to your Central/Victoria Line train and suddenly an idea materializes. For the love of Jesus Hurley Christ, don’t go getting out your phone/notebook/jotter pad/anything right then and there. Wait until you’re sitting down or at least standing somewhere safe. Keep repeating the idea in your head, in keywords like I mentioned in the first idea.

4) Keep a notepad in your bedroom…

But keep it at a distance from your bed. That way, if you happen to wake up with the idea still in your head (which is less likely to happen as you tend to forget things that happened in your brain while you were asleep – but if it happens…) you have to actually wake up to get to the notepad. The short time spent getting yourself up and to where it is will probably get you concious enough so that your idea will come out clearly. Write it down in one to three sentences, as you may not be able to make any sense of keywords in the morning.

5) Once a week…

Take time to sit down with any notes you may have taken. Get some paper and a pen and write your notes out again. Plenty are the times that I’ve lost a notebook (or jotter pad… or the back of a receipt) with a couple of decent ideas in it. This will ensure that you’ve written it all down again, so you have a second copy of your idea. Keep your notes in a folder and keep that folder in a place you can actually see.

And finally…

6) Don’t fret if you’ve lost the idea anyway.

You will have plenty of other ideas throughout your day (week, month, year…) that will hopefully turn into excellent stories (or blog posts, or articles, etc…). It sucks, but it’s par for the course when you’re a writer. Don’t get upset about it – just move on. And maybe another idea will come along which you will be able to capture in time.

— Entering this in the Sex Blog (Of Sorts) Don’t Read Clickbait, Read This! competition —

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5 Comments

  1. I once got so desperate to save the blog entry I had thought up that I texted it to myself. Drastic, perhaps, considering that I could have saved it on my phone or something – but I wanted a backup, of sorts!

      1. Hehe! I like hearing other people’s ideas of keeping on to… well, ideas. DMing them to ILB is one I haven’t tried yet however…

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