Artist Robert Motherwell once said, “When I'm thinking I'm working.”
Honestly, that’s the way it is for me. I have a hard time mentally shutting off my projects. I carry a notepad of some type (paper or computerized) with me nearly everywhere I go, and I jot ideas down as they come to me. It’s both a curse and a blessing. I couldn’t do what I do without the ideas, but sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have any more until I can use up the ones that are already overwhelming me.
Every idea is the genesis for another story or another scene. It’s really not possible to say when those seeds of stories actually become stories themselves. Every idea that I write down is, in essence, a work in progress.
I should note that not every idea is a good one. It’s important that writers acknowledge that and realize that most of the ideas they come up with will never be used. One of my biggest problems is differentiating between the ideas that are workable and the ones that really aren’t worth pursuing.
Every idea is a doorway and they all lead to something—usually more doorways. But sometimes you’ll find a doorway that opens to a room that becomes part of your eventual story. Every idea is, at the very least, a doorway to the next.