Ideas and Organization

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I have so many ideas for fiction that one of the things that I’ve decided to do this year is to keep a catalogue or spreadsheet of them. This was not originally on my list of writer’s resolutions but it has become clear to me that in order to be more productive as a fiction writer this is something that I need to do. I am not really organized unless it comes to certain things but I think that this will be helpful. I usually keep all of my ideas in a file but I haven’t updated it lately. One of the stories that I wanted to tell was inspired by The History of Mary Prince, West Indian Slave. It was not sparked by the brutality or the knowledge garnered by a slave narrative based in the Caribbean but by the idea of three sisters being separated and sold to different masters. In Mary Prince’s case, she ended up leaving her homeland but that was similar, in many ways, to the slaves who were sold “down the river” or separated by many states and the institution of enslavement.

So the story, although inspired by many real- life incidents, would have been fictional I was really drawn to the idea. But like many of my ideas, it has been relegated to a few bits of dialogue, some research on a yellow notepad and some scribbled or typed notes. I considered turning this idea into creative nonfiction but really I can imagine it turning into something like the Cane River series by Lalita Tademy with a bit of Susan Straight’s A Million Nightingales which are all really amazing books. Lofty expectations, I know.  I have a list of other projects ahead of this one but as I said yesterday, I am struggling with a lot of my storylines and plots so a departure from what I normally write would be a huge help. I’ve also been researching The Harlem Renaissance in order to include an element in what was my NaNoWriMo story which also sparked the idea of writing a short story about The Dark Tower, the artist’s salon where many members of The Harlem Renaissance gathered in from 1928-1929. It was housed in the Harlem townhouse of A’lelia Walker, from and she entertained numerous poets, writers, artists, and people from various walks of life. See, too many ideas to keep straight.

Since one of my goals for this year is to submit some of my academic writing; I could also use the catalogue system to keep track as I revise and submit those pieces. Have any of you used something to keep track of your writing ideas? Did it work? Was it helpful?

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