When you’re in idea-generation mode (and that should be often!), you need to have a way to capture your content ideas before they flit through your brain and then get buried by whatever else you’ve got going on. It’s good to have a master list of some sort where you store all of your ideas in one place, but you can’t always get to that master list when an idea shows up. Here are three quirky, but effective, ways to capture your content ideas, no matter where you are.
Index cards are a school-time staple, but their usefulness extends beyond the homework hour. They’re sturdy and portable, they fit well in envelopes, and they’re easy to tuck into a drawer with a pen. Anne Lamott wrote about the ubiquity of index cards around her house in her book Bird by Bird. I used to jot down my ideas on index cards and then put them all in a special box by my computer. I stopped doing this for blog post ideas (I prefer a list that’s easy to scan) but I still use index cards to write down quotes and insights from books, lectures, conversations, etc. In fact, they often pull double-duty as notecards and bookmarks for whatever book I’m reading. You can get yours lined or unlined, in light or bright colors, or even in bigger sizes.
Aqua Notes are a waterproof notepad and pencil that stick on the tile in your shower with suction cups. I’ve used the original Aqua Notes for years, but I recently discovered their Love Notes, which come with both red and regular pencils. A red pencil! The editor in me can’t resist. I’ve also found that the individual papers will stick to the walls of the shower when there’s condensation from the steam, which is really handy when I’m mapping out a multi-note plan of some sort. You really never know when your next big idea will drop!
A vestige from my journalism days is my attachment to my handheld digital recorder. It’s small, easy to carry, unobtrusive, and works with the touch of exactly one button — making it great when I’m driving. I love it because I don’t have to fiddle with apps and whatnot; I can just push a button, talk, and get on with things. (Plus I’m not modeling the use of distracted driving to my 4-year-old!) Later, when I’m looking at my master list, I can just play everything back and type it up quickly. Currently I’m using this inexpensive one from Amazon, and it works just fine.
How do you capture your content ideas? Do you keep a master list?