Creative Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen

What’s priceless is capturing them from the start …

Confession: I’ll never understand writers who complain, “I don’t know what to write about.”

I have the exact opposite problem.

Too. Many. Ideas.

Should I write the paranormal Southern Gothic YA thriller about the genetically gifted witch who finds out her entire life is a lie?

Or the super-dark-and-twisty thriller about the former drug-addled truck-stop prostitute-turned-private investigator who hunts down a long-haul serial killer?

Or the funny detective story about the retired high school English teacher who moves to an island, starts a newspaper and solves crimes in her spare time?

And there’s also the super-secret naughty-book pen name project I’ve had cooking for a few months …

Oh, and don’t forget the one-off time-traveling paranormal romance idea I’ve had kicking around for about four years now …

Or, wait, maybe I should just go a completely different direction and tackle that nonfiction Pajama Productivity book?

I mean — no ideas? Who are you people?!

I kid, I kid.

I suspect, however, that most artists and creatives who complain about a dearth of ideas are really complaining about a dearth of ideas that move you.

Could I be correct in that suspicion?

If so, then what you should know is this:

  • Some ideas are born great. Some need to be tweaked into greatness. Some have greatness thrust upon them. You can’t always tell at first
  • Ideas — moving, compelling, profitable ideas — are a numbers game. The more (ideas, total) you have, the more (good ideas, total) you have.
  • For most creative workers, winning that numbers game is a simple matter of capturing all ideas immediately in some permanent form.
  • That form can be analog — small paper notebooks, Moleskines, cheap 99 cent wire-bound pads from the grocery store — or digital — your phone, an app on your tablet, Evernote synched up across all your devices. It doesn’t really matter, though ideally you use a system that ultimately funnels into a single source (e.g., your synched up Evernote account).
  • The only thing that matters is the habit you create (hey, there’s that word again!) of recording the idea as soon as it occurs to you in one place that holds all your ideas.

Have I mentioned “Evernote” here enough to get you thinking maybe you should try it, even if you’ve tried it before and didn’t get it? Or even hated it?

I’ll go more into how I use Evernote in a future post but for now, I’ll suggest this:

  • If you tried it awhile ago, and hated it — it’s changed
  • If you tried it at any time and just couldn’t figure out how to use it — stay tuned
  • If you haven’t tried it yet — try it. Or stay tuned, and use my upcoming post about Evernote for creative project management as a template/guide for your own exploration.

In the meantime, grab a notebook — any notebook — and a pen, and start training yourself in the habit of writing down every.single.blessed.awful idea that strikes you, as soon as it forms in your brain.

Remember: consistent repetition forms habits, and habits help streamline and automate both your productivity and your creativity.


Photo credit: Wouter de Bruijn Work №1820 — Martin Creed via photopin (license)