Workables #5: You Need a Jar

Ideas can be these wild things, like lightning bugs, that flit about, lighting up and fading out. We need a jar where we can put them.

Workables #5: You Need a Jar
Photo by Jerry Zhang / Unsplash

Ideas are the supply, the fuel for our practice. Since we work out of abundance, and we know that we won’t run out of ideas, we need to put into place a way of holding on to the ideas we have.

Here’s the thing, though, ideas don’t only happen while we’re sitting down and practicing our art. Often, that’s the case, of course. We are writing something, and what we’re writing sparks a new idea in us. When that happens, it's easy. Just write the idea down and move on...

But this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes, we have the idea while we’re walking the dog or doing the dishes or reading something. Oh, my gosh! How often it happens while we’re reading something! (More on that another time…)

If we’re going to use ideas as a necessary fuel for our writing, then we need to put into our minds one simple principle: A.B.C.

  • Always
  • Be
  • Capturing
Modified from original by Alan O'Rourke / onepagecrm.com ← Need to modify this image with "capturing"
Modified from original by Alan O'Rourke / OnePageCRM — Nod to you Glengarry Glen Ross fans. :)

Ideas can be these wild things, like lightning bugs, that flit about, lighting up and fading out. We need a way to grab them and hold on to them. We need a jar where we can put them.

When putting an idea into your jar, you really only need a couple of things:

  1. Title. Some hook or phrase that will remind you of the idea.
  2. Note. If you don’t remember the idea based solely on the title, it’s not a bad idea to capture a bit more detail or context about the idea. This is a kind of insurance policy in case your memory fails you (or you came up with a title that was unhelpful to you...it happens).

For example, here’s a screenshot of my ABC Note for this article:

I use Things to capture my ideas. I've got a workflow for that. I'll share it another time.
I use Things to capture my ideas. I've got a workflow for that. I'll share it another time. Notice that the title for the note isn't the same as the title for this article. Why? Well, that's the writing process...I came up with a different title as I worked on it.
  • Title = “Ideas are the Supply”
  • Note = “We have to have something to practice with. Ideas form the foundation of the supply. Capture them!” (The “to be published” bit is not part of the original note. I added it later as part of my writing workflow.)

Simple!

You can capture ideas in a notebook or in an app. I’ve got suggestions and workflows for how to capture. I'll make those suggestions in the future, but you'll end up adapting them and developing your own system.


Today, find some time to enjoy your writing practice.

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