All this talk of stories and wishing on workshops (perhaps it’s just chatter in my head?) has got me lamenting the cold shoulder I’ve given one of my stories-in-progress. It really wants to be finished, and yet I had to put it aside for these recent deadlines.

I spent all weekend on a freelance copyediting project—I clocked in over 20 hours and now my neck burns. So the story didn’t get touched. Tomorrow is Monday and back to my day job—so the story won’t get touched. I have to write that spec chapter—and the little story, knowing no one, of such small significance I am writing this post instead of it . . . well, it won’t get touched.

I feel bad. I don’t want it to die on me while I’m out gallivanting around trying to pay the bills. So, until I can do something else, I am trying to find a way to keep the story alive and kicking. Maybe I could:

1. Print out what I have of the story so far and carry it around with me everywhere I go, even to (especially to) staff meetings.

2. Rest my head on it while I watch TV*.

3. Talk out loud to it when I’m on the elevator, or walking down stairs, or through the streets. If I’m lucky, it might answer.

4. Write the name of the story in my notebook like in junior high: Nova + Story Forever. Nova & Story. Story & Nova. Story Story Story Story Story Story all small and decorated with little stars and kissy lips and mascaraed eyeballs deep and twisting into the margin.

5. Repeat a line from the story in my mind until it becomes like an iconic song lyric that keeps replaying until I just can’t forget it and so MUST write it down in order to move ahead with my life.

6. Picture the main character sitting next to me, just hanging out until I have time for her, like a very persistent imaginary friend.

7. Keep the sentence where I left off on a sticky note and post it wherever I may be—like on my computer monitor or keyboard at work—or even in my pocket, against my hip, so I carry it everywhere, and rub it raw, and I forget I even have it… which might not help too much at all.

So, other busy-busy people, how do you do it? There must be some other more practical ways to keep an idea alive.

*Yes, I am busy, but I am very tired and sometimes I just want to watch TV.

Are you going to say that’s another reason I’m not writing the story?

Fine. How about…

8. Tomorrow, when I get home from work, maybe try not to turn on the TV.


  1. Fascinating! “Ways to keep an idea alive”–I’ve always thought that ideas meant to be alive, stay alive–but of course there are ways to keep them alive, too. I do brainstorm a lot, I keep a notebook with me and I jot down ideas for the story whenever I can. Uh. Yah. 🙂

  2. Ah, interesting. I usually do #1 (heh): have a copy printed out and carry it with me everywhere, then whip it out when I’m standing in a long line or in a boring meeting. Sometimes, to save paper or to focus on a certain scene, I’ll just print the paragraph where I left off and jumpstart from there. Of course, I also like the idea of the character hanging out with you until you’re ready to pay attention to him/her. There’s nothing like having an imaginary character follow you thtrough the streets of a nutty city.

  3. Or you could just have faith in yourself. I often find that creative writing is much improved by being allowed to mature for a while in a back room of my mind. It won’t go away, but it may well transform itself into something even better than you first planned. Creativity is wonderfully, forgivingly organic.

  4. This might be part of my problem: I keep losing my pen! But to be safe I bought 2 yesterday.

    Litlove, I certainly like to hear that. And it’s true, isn’t it? An idea that’s worth keeping just won’t go away…

    Jade: You are so sweet. Thank you for reading it!!!

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