Creative Ideas Photo Credit Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden
Have you ever had a brilliant idea only to forget what it was shortly after? You are not alone – this is beyond frustrating for many people, myself included until recently.
Here are some great ways to cast a net and capture your ideas as they come to you – no matter where you are.
1. Be Prepared
It’s difficult to get anything done without being prepared. Make sure you know your options for capturing ideas.
a. Prepare your Living Space
No matter where you live; a house, an apartment, the little room above a garage, you should make it easy to record stuff.
I like to place sketchbooks in various locations throughout my house. Here is where I place them;
- on the nightstand near my bed
- in the garage
- in the kitchen hidden near the pantry
To go the extra mile, I get sketchbooks that have a loop on the side for a pen. I have every sketchbook equipped with a great pen so I never have to search for one. I highly recommend this, especially if you live with other people.
b. Prepare Your Car
I have a similar method in my car. I keep a small sketchpad under the seat with a pen. When I’m driving, I use my phone to record my thoughts. You can hit record and place it in your lap while you drive.
You can also use the recorder in places other than the car. I like having the option of a recorder for a few reasons:
- most people can talk faster than they can write or type
- ideas flow out of your mouth easier than writing or typing
- it’s easier to capture your tangents
- you free-speak differently than you free-write
It can also be useful to speak several times on one idea, generating several different options. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin did this – he recorded three versions of his guitar solos and picked the best one for the master recording of a song.
2. Be Proactive
If you control when the majority of your ideas come, it will be easier to capture them.
a. Anticipate Your Creative Time Tendencies
If you know what times are your creative times, you can take steps to have the things you need to capture your ideas.
- mentally prepare yourself for these times
- set aside these times so you can take advantage of them without distractions
- look forward to these times
b. Get in a Routine
If you have a set time for creativity, your brain will learn to turn on the creativity around that time. Sometimes you must force yourself into a routine that works for you. If you stick with it, you will adapt.
- set the routine and keep it
- use triggers to get in the right mode (I had a friend that would sniff a forest pine candle before conceptualizing. She never actually lit the candle. It was the strangest thing, but it worked for her)
3. Give Yourself Time to Organize Your Thoughts
If you capture all of these raw ideas and never revisit or refine them, they are useless. Writers will often free-write in a notebook and then put it out of sight. They will pick it back up in a month and read what they wrote.
Ideas are relational – just because they seem unrelated doesn’t mean they aren’t connected in some way. No matter how silly, stupid, or insignificant, always capture your idea. This helps in two ways:
1. First, the idea is purged from your conceptualizing. You have closure so you can move on to other ideas that are better.
2. Second, you may think something is stupid or cheesy, but that doesn’t mean it is. Sometimes you need a second glance. Also, these cheesy or cliche ideas can often encourage additional ideas.
So here is how you can preen your ideas and organize them into manageable concepts:
- write down your ideas and keep them somewhere
- separate the best ideas from the rest and place the remainder out of sight
- continue to stockpile your average and below average ideas into a notebook, on index cards, or on the computer, then revisit them after a while
You will be surprised how much organization can help you. It will give you the desire to continue your process as an organized set of items that is very approachable. Organization will also make you efficient in reviewing your thoughts, saving time, and giving you the best scenario for making maximum progress.
Now, get your nets ready and start catching those brilliant ideas. Oh, and tell me how YOU capture ideas. Do you do it differently or have something to add? Tell me in the comments.