I saw an interesting little thread on Twitter yesterday where someone asked writers about what they did if a potential story idea struck them. There were only three responses. All of them were on the lines of “I jot them down in a notebook”.
One of them elaborated a little. “I used to think that just having them in my head was enough, but then I realized I couldn’t recall them later when I really wanted to. So now I write them down in a diary,” was the reply. Or something like that.
I have never written down the random story ideas that strike me out of the blue. Not even the story ideas for the ten short stories that I wrote for my latest book “Love, Loss, Lockdown”. The loose themes/ideas were just in my head and that was enough. Perhaps there wasn’t much chance of me forgetting anything, since the inception and execution of the ideas happened over such a short period. I decided to write a short stories collection loosely themed on the Covid19 pandemic in March 2020 and was done writing and publishing the book by June.
This is not to say that I am against the idea of jotting down potential story plots. A month ago I purchased four notebooks, exclusively for writing down all things related to writing fiction and then selling them. Just all sorts of notes and pointers that might be helpful. The pages are all empty is a different matter. The intent is there. However, just a few days after the notebooks arrived, I read something about how ‘Horror King’ Stephen King allegedly said that one doesn’t need a notebook for their ideas. King apparently believes that if you cannot even remember them, they are probably not worth writing. Makes sense right? Good stories are the ones that stay with you forever, or at least for a long time.
However, there are bound to be many writers who would disagree. Here is the thing – human memory is fickle and disloyal. Sometimes, our brain does forget even the most important things. For example, last week I was supposed to attend an international virtual zoom meet organized by Quora, but completely forgot about it, despite looking forward to it. One cannot imagine the sense of brief regret that filled me when I realized it a full day later.
While it’s true that if a great story idea strikes us out of nowhere, we would remember it if it’s a good one; there is also the very real possibility of us suffering from premature dementia or having such a shitty memory that it just cannot recall things that matter. So, if you are not an undisciplined, lazy idiot like me, you are better off writing those potential plots for your next new novel down.
P.S. If contemporary fiction & short-stories interest you, following are the links to my latest book ‘Love, Loss, Lockdown’ –
If I’ve missed your country, look for it on Amazon or on your kindle store.