Where Do You Get Your Ideas and How Do You Organize Them? by Heather Weidner

I am often asked about where my ideas for stories come from. Generating ideas has never been a problem. Finding the time to use all of them is usually the issue. Ideas are everywhere, but keeping track of them is also a challenge. 

My laptop bag and purse are full of sticky notes of all kinds of names, crimes, and murder weapons. Sometimes, they look like a deadly grocery list. 

  • I constantly jot down cool names, interesting words, weird anecdotes, and funny stories. 
  • When I run across interesting news stories, I save the link or the clipping. 
  • I write cozy mysteries with amateur sleuths, so I’m always looking for everyday items that can be used as weapons. Hardware stores, auto supply stores, and cookware stores are always good sources of deadly items. When I see something new or interesting, it goes on the list.
  • People know that I write, and they are so kind to tell me about interesting true crime stories or things that happened to them.
  • Sometimes, ideas come from movies, TV shows, classes, workshops, documentaries, or overheard conversations. I make sure to update my notes and add any subject matter expert contacts to my list.

I needed a way to keep my notes organized, and a file folder didn’t work with all the scraps of paper. I channeled my technical writing and project management backgrounds and created a spreadsheet. One column has the category (e.g. story idea, cool names, contact information for subject matter experts, story location, and interesting slang.), so I can sort my list. I add notes and brief descriptions of where it came from for my acknowledgements. 

This gives me one centralized location where I transcribe all those bits of paper. If I use one in a story, I make a note, so I don’t repeat it elsewhere. My spreadsheet has grown over the years, and this is a good way for me to keep bits of information for use later. When I get ready to write something new, I browse my collection of ideas. 

How do you do to keep your ideas organized?

~ ~ ~ ~ 

Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She writes the Pearly Girls Mysteries, the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, The Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, and The Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, Murder by the Glass, and First Come Love, Then Comes Murder, and she has non-fiction pieces in Promophobia and The Secret Ingredient: A Mystery Writers’ Cookbook.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers, and she blogs with the 

Writers Who Kill. 

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/ 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner 
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003 
Threads: https://www.threads.net/@heather_mystery_writer

9 thoughts on “Where Do You Get Your Ideas and How Do You Organize Them? by Heather Weidner”

  1. Great advice for keeping organized! I’m in a bit of a jumble with ideas floating around in multiple notebooks and pads, so I’ll be trying out the spreadsheet tip. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Debra and Heather. I wonder if many of those treasured tidbits end up in one book. Do you think that’s where much of the creativity comes in then, in putting the fun tidbits together?

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