I used to plan out and gather ideas for novels and screenplays on index cards. Great system. One idea per card. The lined side was for the idea, be it bits of dialogue, character, setting, or whatever else came to mind. The other side was notes or comments. I consistently walked around with three pens (lest one run dry) and a stack of index cards in my pocket. Family members used to tease me about it, and everybody turned to me when they needed to write anything down. These index cards were my creative lifeline, and I even paid tribute to them in my first novel, City of Woe.
When I had a stack, I would spread them on the largest floor surface in my home, and like a puzzle, switch the order of the cards around until the story took shape. Then I would start typing them into a computer file, and subsequently, each idea would be expanded into character moments, dialogue, scenes, or chapters, until i had a draft of my novel or screenplay.
Great method, and I don’t miss it at all. I no longer use pens or index cards. Now all the ideas for my writing go into my smartphone, no muss, no fuss, no squishing or losing or smudging of ideas. Every once in a while I email a bunch to myself and save it to a file, then play puzzle onscreen, cutting and pasting the deals into a usable order like I did with the cards on the rug. One extra benefit is the ideas are now already in a format I can readily edit and manipulate. This saves the step of retyping, and draws less stares than whipping out a stack of cards and writing notes in public.
The best thing about this method is that most of you already have the notepad or notes app on your phones. Nothing new to purchase, no new program to learn, just tap it open and start getting your ideas down in a usable form.
Try it, and as long as you email a copy to yourself every once I awhile, you won’t lose anything and will be a crucial step closer to writing your dream.