About Writing: Revisit Old Ideas

You keep all your old ideas in a folder right? Or a notebook?

And you do make sure to take the time to look through those ideas as often as possible?

I try and keep a note of every story idea I have, even if it’s fragmentary and doesn’t seem to have the legs to be worth the effort. Sometimes these filing systems, both paper and digital, seem to be cumbersome and pointless, but more and more this year, I’m finding them to be invaluable.

Scripts and novels eat ideas like the Cookie Monster.

A tenuous excuse to post a photo of a Muppet.
A tenuous excuse to post a photo of a Muppet.

I set aside some time to write a new spec sitcom for my agent, and as I was discussing some ideas with a friend, she reminded me of a script I had written a few years back. It had never reached the stage where I was comfortable sending it out, and with the benefit of hindsight, I quickly realised its failings. I had executed a strong idea badly. I had done it wrong.

And when I came to start work on it from scratch, the whole thing came together rather quickly.

Maybe you’ll look back on an idea and get the same insight.

At the moment, I’m planning and plotting for a comedy drama. It occurred to me that an idea I had recently filed away as a possibility for a stand-alone story would actually fit well into this script as a sub-plot. What I like about this revelation is that had I stuck to the notion that this idea was autonomous, I may never have written it.

What’s more, an idea for a play that has been kicking around my brain for years now has finally found a home in my next novel.

It’s worth writing ideas down, no matter how fleeting they seem at the time.

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