Multiply Your Ideas by Writing Them Down

Note: This post was first published in April 2016. I've updated it because in October 2016 I started using the Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Notebook. It's a great notebook; I use it daily; I highly recommend it. (The link is to a "dotted" notebook, but I use a plain-page notebook; they also come with ruled pages.)

Get Your Ideas Out of Your Head: Write Your Ideas Down

If you want to write blog posts, articles, or books — or doing anything at all creative — you need to write down your ideas.

And you need to write them down not just because your ideas will be lost if you don't write them down.

You need to write them down, because ideas written down generate more ideas.

(This Just a Catholic Family post also mentions the importance of writing things down and externalizing what's in your head.)

A Writer for the Simpsons Confirms It: Writing Down Your Ideas Generates Even More Ideas

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
— John Steinbeck

I was listening to David Allen's Getting Things Done podcast in which he interviews the writers for the Simpsons. (If you're a stranger to David Allen, I recommend this Ted talk.) 

When asked about where he gets ideas, one of the Simpsons writers mentioned his habit of writing down any idea that occurs to him (which is an instance of the GTD practice of "capturing"). 

The writer also mentioned this quote from Steinbeck:

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

If they're kept alive and in a decent condition, then ideas, like rabbits, multiply.

Multiplied rabbits

Multiplied rabbits

Where I Keep My Ideas: A Notecard First (or a fancy Notebook) then a .TXT File 

When I have an idea that I want to write about (the Steinbeck quote was an idea), I write it down on a notecard (I always have at least one with me) and I later type it in a plain .txt file titled Ideas for Posts.

Periodically, I browse Ideas for Posts to pick something to write about. But I've found that just having written an idea down keeps my brain primed for writing — no writer's block. 

More importantly, the ideas interbreed. Connections are made; insights emerge.

You should try it: write down your ideas and see what happens.

Update: Since first writing this post in April 2016, I've switched up my practice a bit. I'm trotting around with a Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Notebook. It's great. Here's one on Amazon with dotted pages (pages also come ruled or blank — your preference).