Writing Wednesday: Tracking ideas as they grow

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diary writing

Recently I discovered this excellent article on Barking Up the Wrong Tree about how some of the most brilliant minds on earth developed their great ideas over time. The main message of the article is that new and innovative ideas don’t just suddenly come upon the person in a flash of brilliance. They come in pieces over time. And the best minds stick with these little pieces of ideas until they add up over time to a great idea.

Of course the most interesting thing to me in the article was how these creative, innovative people often tracked their ideas in a notebook, allowing them to revise and add to the idea over time. They allow the idea to develop organically on paper where they can see and manipulate the information.

It’s a great lesson for all of us to capture those little ideas, and have the patience to nurture them into big ideas. It helps to hear we can’t expect it to come all at once. Be patient, be open to your thoughts, and keep plugging away.

Do you use a notebook or other system to track your ideas? How do you follow them through as they develop?

7 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: Tracking ideas as they grow

  1. I definitely track my ideas – sometimes on my phone, sometimes in Evernote and sometimes in my planner – it just depends on which tool is available at the time. I have tons of ideas in all three of these tools. Sometimes the ideas are just a sentence and sometimes a paragraph and sometimes an outline or an entire article. They make blogging daily a lot easier.

  2. I use Evernote to keep track of my ideas. It is a great way to write down short notes and copy paste articles on a specific idea to. I revisit my idea notes every other week and, like you mention in your post, make amendments. It takes a different point of view, new information input and time to adapt the idea. Thanks for sharing this post!

  3. Tracking ideas is one of the main purposes for keeping a journal, in my mind. All of my ideas make their way there, and often I revisit them. They morph and grow over time, some burning out because they’ve got flaws, some not.

    I absolutely agree that ideas need gestation to become complete and actionable. I also think that doing it by hand is the only way to go. When I try to type this sort of thing, it doesn’t seem to stick in my subconcious that way handwritten stuff does.

    Also – Altucher’s 10 ideas a day practice does work. Not easy to keep up, though.

  4. It’s a rare day I don’t have a notebook (or three) in front of me. I have a daily log book for all the ideas, then special ones for when I’m focused on specific areas of my work. i make sure specifically to record what didn’t work this time. sometimes that leads to a brilliant solution for another problem i’m facing.

  5. The key is to have pen and paper with you for those flashes of brilliance which ALWAYS seem to come away from formal settings. Pocket sized pads or notebooks are perfect for this.

  6. Have you read anything by James or Claudia Altucher? Great info about coming up with 10 ideas every day. Good stuff.

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