Are you good at capturing your own creative thoughts? Or do you let them slip away by telling yourself that they weren’t really all that good or all that important? Stop that! Start right now doing a better job of capturing and recording your ideas.
Self-doubt is an evil demon when it comes to writing. Not only is our writing susceptible to what others perceive as good, but our own minds have a way of sometimes tricking us into believing that the work we are doing is not what we think it should be. The dangers of our own minds come into play, especially when searching for new ideas.
The panic of “perfectionism” can start with the inception of an idea. An inspiration skips across the brain as we drive, or we wake from a dream and it stays with us for a while. We may ask, “What does that have to do with my story?” or say more definitively, “That has nothing to do with this project! Why bother remembering?” But too often, our first reaction is to dismiss it, to decide, consciously or not, that it is simply not worth writing down. Conversely, we might think, “That was such a fantastic idea, there is no way I’ll ever forget it.” Then we do.
That has to stop!
Get into the habit of immediately making record of ideas as soon as they come to mind. Remember though, just because you write something down does not mean it is permanent . . . or perfect. First drafts are meant to be revised and reconstructed. Opportunity to adjust, focus, or deepen will always be there, but unless you capture the idea nuggets from the outset, you have no starting points.
There are plenty of methods for capturing your ideas, giving you ways to save them under all sorts of conditions. Keep a small notepad or notebook at your workstation or desk. When you cannot write, such as in a car, use your phone to record your notes. There are lots of apps and programs available that allow you to record, play back, edit, and even transcribe.
When I have an idea while driving, I like to discuss it with myself. When I record these verbal arguments on my phone, it is easy to return to them and review them later.
Another benefit of such a method is that the filter between the brain and the mouth is much flimsier than the filter between the mouth and the hand. Thinking out loud can be easier. Words can flow more quickly, without as much forethought. When writing something, however, hesitation and editing the words before getting them down is too easy. We can spend far too much time thinking about exactly how to put something together on the page when it is fully acceptable for these initial thoughts to be disjointed or disorderly.
In the idea stage of writing, everything must be fair game. All things that come must be grabbed for later examination. There is no benefit in hesitation. Be open, accepting, even greedy and covetous, about every single idea that presents itself.
This creativity tip is inspired by and based on The 97 Best Creativity Tips Ever! by Dr. Eric Maisel (2011), and is used with his permission.
Bonnie Snow served as our intern at Around the Writer’s Table during her senior year at Florida State University, as a Literature major. She is working toward a graduate certificate in publishing and editing and is applying for the FSU graduate program in communications.
Gina Hogan Edwards is an Editor and Creativity Coach, and is the founder of Around the Writer’s Table. She supports aspiring and experienced authors who want a writing life on their own terms, whether their words are put on the page for self-fulfillment or to share with readers.