by Paul Bishop
Every writer should have a treasure chest—a place to store golden nuggets of brilliant ideas, keeping them from being forgotten and giving them a place to mature. Ideas are very different from stories. Stories have a beginning a middle and an end. If a story doesn’t have all three of those elements, it’s a story fragment—not a story. To become a story, an idea often needs to be strung together with other seemingly unrelated ideas before sparking the inspiration to becomes a fully formed story.
For my idea treasure chest, I use cheap composition books—those stiff cover, lined-paged, 9x7 notebooks I used in college (back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth). Over the years, I’ve collected a bookshelf’s worth of these invaluable resources. Whenever I am beginning a new writing project of any kind, I plunder these notebooks for inspiration.
First let me explain what kind of ideas I put in my treasure chest. Recently, I was driving to a writing conference while listening to Weekend Edition on my local NPR station. Before the first hour of the show was finished, I had to pull over and scribble down four ideas sparked by the profiles and interviews to which I’d been listening (you can’t consider yourself a writer if you don’t keep a pen and paper handy at all times). I later transcribed these scribbled notes into my current composition book.
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