How To Keep Track of Your Story Ideas: Be An Organized Writer

I don't know about you, but it happens to me all the time. I'm busy writing a novel, and another story idea pops into my head. Sometimes three of them.

They usually get written down on the back of grocery receipts or fast-food napkins, but I run the risk of losing a fantastic idea. Who knows which of these flashes of inspiration will be the seed for my next novel?

My issues were solved when I found Its author, Julie Hood, is one of my heroes.  She's got a free writing calendar to download, to can keep track of deadlines and goals. 

But the best part is this: Anyone who signs up for her newsletter (right side of her web page), gets the free "Sidetracked Writer's Planner". This is a 30-page document with twenty excellent organizational forms for you to copy and assemble into a binder. My binder is well-used. A couple of examples:

  1. Projects Index- Keep track of the different projects you are working on.
  2. Clips Index- One sheet to keep track of all your clips (articles that you've published).
  3. Clips Detail Sheet- One sheet for each clip where you can record who it was sold to, and any reprints sold.
  4. Submission Tracker- If you are submitting articles, many magazines take a long time to get back to you (one of mine took nine months!). Don't forget about any submissions with this form.
  5. Query Index- Similar to the Submission Tracker, it keeps a list of who you've queried, and when.
  6. Income and Expense Record- This is very important if you need financial information for tax purposes.
My favorite form is her Idea Index. I list the names of my story ideas on the index sheet, and each of them gets a number. Following the index, I have numbered pages with the details of each story idea. If I'm looking for, say, a short story idea, I just scan the index and jump to the page with my description. It has saved me valuable time.

So pull those scraps of paper with ideas that are languishing in your purse or briefcase, and put them where you can use them.
    Julie has links to many other articles and resources. Spend a little time there--it's worth your while.

    How do you keep yourself organized as a writer?


    1. This is a great post. I plan to check out the link for free planner pages. Thanks.

    2. Thank you, Kristi--it's been an invaluable tool for me. I noticed you're a SCBWI member--so am I!


    3. Sounds good, anything to help me organize .

      Terri Forehand

    4. How perfect! I can't tell you how many times I have lost scraps of paper with ideas on them.

    5. I like the idea of being organized. Since it doesn't come naturally to me, I have to rely on tools like these. I love it that they're free!




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