Have a System to Capture Creative Ideas

If I had to give you just one piece of creative advice, it would be this: have a system to capture creative ideas. Write it down, look it over, and figure out how to use it. You will slowly make connections and have epiphanies that would never happen if you didn’t capture the information. Various ideas might start to compliment each other, combine, and start to form a coherent project. It’s the foundation of my own creative process.

Have a Dedicated Creative Space

Currently I have three journals on my desk. The first is my regular bullet journal. The second is my business bujo, which is entirely a deadline calendar and collections of business-related information. The third is a commonplace book. It’s unstructured space where I can write down half-baked ideas, incomplete thoughts, and “someday/maybe” type stuff.

Separating things out like that allows me to have tighter focus. For day-to-day operations, I don’t need deep notes on standard operating procedure, business contacts, and financial information. I also don’t want to be tripping over random quotes, notes on possible future projects, and things to research when I have the time. Having a commonplace book as a dedicated creative space allows me to not think about other things that I could, or should, be doing in the moment. I can just brainstorm and let my creativity loose.

Look at Captured Ideas Regularly

Writing things doesn’t contribute anything unless you periodically look at it. With my main bullet journal, I look at it daily and review it weekly and monthly. The business bujo is intended to be a reference book, where I can look things up as needed. For the commonplace book, I review it at different times for different reasons.

Once a week I sit down and go through it to be sure I don’t have anything relevant to current or upcoming projects. That information will get transferred to the main bujo as tasks to be scheduled. When I’m making my production calendars, for the blogs or the publishing schedule, I will go through it and look for ideas. Posts to write, books to write, ideas that can be developed in games, there’s always raw material in there to spark creativity.

Appreciate Past Creative Accomplishments

When I do use ideas from my commonplace book, I make note of it. Sometimes, when I’m feeling down, I look through it so I can see what I’ve done with stray thoughts and random observations. It’s the same reason that I have print copies of my books sitting on my desk. They remind me that I’ve done all of this before and survived. It’s why someday I’ll have an office with framed, poster-sized prints of covers from books I’ve written. Not to brag, but to help fight off doubt, anxiety, and impostor syndrome.

Have a System to Capture Creative Ideas

You won’t always use every idea you have. I have a novel that I started in high school, originally as an idea for a comic book series. At one point it was an idea for a roleplaying game. There are interesting concepts in there that I think are worth expressing, but I’ve never found the right medium. No matter how I rework it, there’s always something missing. Every few years I pick it up and tinker with it. I know that I’ll probably never finish it. That’s okay.

On the other hand, last week Katie had an epiphany about an idea she’s been kicking around since the 90s. It crops up from time to time in her notebooks but, again, she never figured out what to do with it. Now she knows. She can go back through her notebooks and see what she’s already got, and pick up from there. Keeping notes has been worthwhile.

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