Quick Tip: Keeping Track of Creative Ideas
Ideas are commonly referred to as “a dime a dozen.” But they’re often worth a lot more when they’re harnessed, combined and used in a cohesive way.
Early on in my career, I started writing spec screenplays and television episodes (I was partial to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Frasier). When it came to screenplays, I would make notes, do research, work on scenes, write some dialogue – but never put down a full draft before, on average, a year had passed from my idea’s first lightning bolt of inspiration. What can I say? I take my time – if I’m going to commit to an idea, it better be one that I’m in love with for the long haul. It’s not unlike looking for a person to marry, in a way.
Currently, I’m working on different design projects in different mediums, while balancing my writing workload. It’s a lot to deal with, especially when ideas range from small to medium to big. At any time of day, something may pop up – from a phrase, to a crafting idea, to a design layout, to an entire article I’d like to cover.
Many of you rely on PDAs, smart phones, or laptops to track these things. I am more of a Neo-Luddite when it comes to idea-generating, since I am both forgetful and visual as a person. I discovered, from my spec writing days, that sticky notes – ever so helpful when breaking down a script’s scene order – are fabulous for keeping track of your brainstorming genius. They’ll never suffer from a data crash, be forgotten in a nightclub bathroom, or get pilfered from jackhole thieves. They can, however, burn in a house fire.
So if you’re like me, and easily forget about your ideas if they’re not in front of you, consider jotting them down on sticky notes and tracking them on an oversized memo board divided with headers that make sense to you. Some category listings could be: short-term, long-term, new “song/poem/photo/product/pattern/outline/art piece/design,” etc. You get the idea. Creative journals are a standby that many people use; I just prefer sticky notes because they can be splayed out en masse to be manipulated, switched around and swirled into different configurations. Not only is this liberating, it’s great at getting creatively unstuck. Sometimes, when you see two unrelated ideas grouped together, a new and interesting concept will emerge.
Even if being digital is hard-wired into your DNA, consider putting your ideas to bits of paper and mixing things up. You’d be surprised at what order can arise from chaos!