How I Save My Ideas to Increase My Writing Income – by Bill Vossler

How I Save My Ideas to Increase My Writing Income – by Bill Vossler

Ideas are the lifeblood of writing, through which we writers make money. So it’s imperative to record each new idea as soon as possible so we don’t forget it. Short term memory fills and drains the flotsam and jetsam of daily life every 15 to 30 seconds, often sucking  into oblivion those ideas we want to keep. However, these ideas, if properly preserved, can make us money.

Our memories work differently with two main types of ideas – those emanating out of everyday pursuits, like making the bed or walking the dog; and those formed while writing, when our minds are reverberating in the deep joyous trance of creativity. These are the most dangerous because they are the most easily lost.

For many reasons, life often intrudes, and prevents us from recording our ideas – driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic; no paper, or pen: no Smartphone available; kids howling, dogs yowling; intense conversation, pasta overflowing… You name it.

But, these ideas can often be reconstituted later by recalling the physical scenario: “I was starting the lawn mower…” or “We were discussing that kid’s poetic line, ‘Daddy, you are the wind of my hunt…’” Returning mentally to the scene of the crime often elicits, “Oh yeah, now I remember…” But, not always. That’s the life of a writer.

On the other hand, ideas that materialize when my mind is into the great depths of creativity – writing a poem, short story, novel chapter, article, or even my memoir – coalesce outside my consciousness, invisible, and suddenly explode into view.

These ideas can be divided into two parts:

  1. Ideas unrelated to what I’m working on right then
  2. Ideas (words, phrases, paragraphs) related to what I’m actually writing.

They streak through the firmament of my consciousness like a meteor, become incandescent, and wink out as fast, unless I snare them and jot them down immediately.

This can present several dangers. First, diverting my attention however briefly from the muse whispering a skein of gorgeous words into my ear risks her flitting away, and knocking me out of my creative state, thus aborting the direction of my writing. Second, scribbling the idea down hastily so I can return to my writing dream can make it illegible, or so incomplete that it is useless, and cannot be repatriated.

I know, I know. The idea you just created is so crystal clear in your mind, and powerful, and real, that you just know you will never, ever forget it. But, in this creative state, memory is practically useless, seemingly drugged or disconnected from the process. Plus there’s nothing physical to grab onto. “That idea came when I was writing the paragraph about Alex Jericho’s battle with the T. rex…” is too unclear because you are also creating at that point, flipping through possible words and ideas in that writing. How can you know which combination triggered that lost idea?

So what’s to be done? My three methods of saving ideas are very simple:

  1. Keep a notebook and pen next to your bed. If I wake up from a dream that is giving me an idea, I always jot it down, hoping it will be terra firma and not terra incognito, and getting back into my dream as soon as possible. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
  2. Keep pen and a small notebook in your pocket, always, and another set in every room in your house. Don’t skimp on these because of your Smartphone because you might not have it with you, or you might lose your phone at some time in the future.
  3. If you do wish to use your phone, set it for one-click access in the car. Mine is a one-click recorder. Click and talk.

With these techniques, you’ll save most of your ideas, which will help you make more money. Don’t you think that’s a good idea?


Bill Vossler has published more than 3,400 articles in 212 magazines, as well as 16 books. He is a columnist for the St. Cloud Times Life section, won an award for “Best Photo” from N. D. REC magazine, sells photos in, shows four new photos per day on his web page, is working on his memoir, tentatively titled Stories from the Silent Streets,and speaks to groups about his unusual growing-up days, with topics like, “Lessons in Ethical Living,” “The Morality of Writing,” “Childhood Terrain,” “Demons of the Fall,” and others. His only regret in life is that his cat, Anjo, will still not sit on his lap.


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