Keeping track of your great ideas

Writers do more than simply write. They brainstorm, outline, and construct their ideas on a frequent basis — usually at very odd hours.


    While it may be true that some people have a perfect memory, and need not worry about losing a thought or an idea, the rest of us are stuck in reality.


    Every day, we are bombarded with issues concerning our personal lives, our business ventures, and everything outside and in-between. With so much outside stimuli, it’s not surprising for a writer to be working with a great idea, and then lose it once the phone rings.


    Since a writer can be inspired anywhere, at anytime, it is important for a writer to have certain tools with them at all times. These tools need to be:

  • Easily accessible
  • Efficient
  • Durable


    Regardless of if you are a traditional pencil-to-paper person, or if you are adapting technology to assist you in your pursuits as an author, the following includes some great ideas to keep your ideas flowing freely, and on how to keep them safe for future reference.


Notebooks, notebooks, everywhere:  One of the simplest approaches is to keep notebooks and/or sticky notes everywhere. Even though you can’t predict where you will be, you can always travel prepared. For instance, if you use a briefcase, purse, satchel, or oversized organizer, you should always keep a pen and notebook/sticky notes dedicated to the single purpose of writing down ideas. Next, strategically place a few notebooks and sticky note pads throughout your house. Some of the # 1 places include:

  • Next to your bed
  • Near wherever you watch television
  • In your kitchen
  • In your bathroom


Of course you will have to make sure that a pen or pencil is nearby your notebooks and sticky note pads, but it will be worth it in the end.


Let’s get digital: Voice recorders from yesteryear had the major annoyance of running out of tape. In today’s techno savvy world, we have digital voice recorders—no tapes, no fuss. These devices are fairly small, easy to work, and they hook up right to your computer. All you need is a computer that can deal with the software that comes with your recorder. You’ll be able to have your voice recorder with you wherever you go, record your ideas, and then upload them later on to your computer.


Reasonably priced digital voice recorders, between $30-50, can record and store on average between 50-200 hours worth of information. Additionally, their batteries last for anywhere between 25-50 hours. When you upload the recordings to your system, you can name them like you would any other file and organize them into various folders. Unless you have specific software, however, any transcribing you do will have to be performed by you listening to your recordings and typing and/or writing it out yourself.


    Whichever method you use, or if you use something completely different, you will need to make the extra effort of gathering up all of your notes into one place to go through and organize them.


    For those who write notes on pieces of paper or sticky notes, having a safe and secure inbox-like location to store your ideas works well because it keeps everything in one place. All you would have to do then is figure out how often you need to go through your idea inbox to organize and file away your ideas in a more “structured” environment.


    For those of us who are more dependent on technology, and would most likely use the digital recorder, it is also equally important to keep all of your ideas in an organized fashion through clearly labeled computer files in easy-to-find locations.


    As an extra tip, setting aside specific time to transcribe your ideas can motivate you to move forward on them. Since they are digital, and you cannot see them, it’s really easy to be comfortable with the fact that they are safely on your computer. However, the point of gathering your ideas in one organized place is to utilize them to write more articles and stories.


    Hence, setting aside time to work with your digital ideas will get the creative ball rolling. Furthermore, keeping track of which ideas have been transcribed and which have not can also be useful and easy. All you need to do is open any one of your folders containing your digital recordings, and inside that folder create a new folder labeled something like “Ideas Transcribed.” Whenever you listen to recordings and transcribe your notes, move the recording into that file so that your recording is still safe, and so that you can see just how much work you have accomplished.


    Last, but definitely not least, whatever method of note taking you have, it’s a good idea to always back up your information. For those of you using technology, frequently putting backup copies of your work, recordings, and notes on to a thumb drive can be a lifesaver for when, and if, your computer decides to go haywire and break down on you. Backing up data is definitely easier for the technology users, but traditional pen and paper writers can and should back up their work as well. Making photocopies can be a good step, although it is a little costly at times. Additionally, keeping your notes in a place that is safe from water and fire damage is highly recommended.



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