This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
There are no two ways about it, thoughts and inspirations will always occur at the most inopportune time.
Whether it is when you are ironing, showering, driving, bored during a tedious business meeting, or during any other inconvenient moment, inspiration will choose to strike then and not when you are sitting before a keyboard.
Times such as these are precisely when the writer’s journal or writer’s notebook is needed to jot down such thoughts and inspirations as they occur.
The main reason proposed by my first creative writing teacher in order to sell me the idea that all writers should always carry a notebook was the ability to capture such thoughts and inspirations (it was only later that I learned she did not fully comprehend the tool she was promoting).
These entries are amongst the most important entries you can make in your creative journal, and often contain some of the best and most creative ideas you are likely to come up with. Unfortunately, our minds hold such thoughts and inspirations in a weak grip and the next strong thought will often cause them to slip away and vanish. It is imperative to not believe that you can record them in a little while, once you have finished the current task, since any delay will cause some or all of the original thought to slip away.
The more involved you are with a project, the more you will find that your creative-mind throws up odd thoughts at very odd times. Be ready to capture these by any and whatever means you can; whether it is the traditional notebook, a voice recorder or strategically placed sticky-notes. There are even notepads and pencils now available that can be used in the shower (Click here for more details about Aquanotes).
Neat tip: These thoughts can be so tenuous that sometimes as you write them down they begin to slip away, especially the more complex ones or if you begin to elaborate on the original thought. So start by only using the briefest and quickest of sentences to outline the idea and get it recorded and fixed in your head. Once it has been ‘fixed’ you may start to expand and elaborate on it.
Such thoughts and inspirations typically includes all of the following, plus many more bursts of insight;
Ideas for stories
Ideas for scenes
Mean ways to treat characters
Key moments to be included
“Must try” ideas
Etc, etc, etc…
During your normal review of your creative journal, you will almost certainly come across multiple entries of this type that address the same concern, maybe one entry is more comprehensive than another or each entry encompasses an issue but approaches it slightly differently.
There is nothing wrong with this, it is not wasted time. It is the journal’s way, your creative-mind’s way, of telling you that that particular issue is important to you and that it needs greater consideration.
Collate repetitive entries and ponder on them a while before making a journal entry about them and how they differ. You may be surprised at what else can emerge from such focused considerations.
Many famous people always carry a notebook on them to capture their thoughts; Richard Branson and Aristotle Onassis are but two of them. Do you have an interesting way of capturing your momentary flashes of inspiration? If you do, please share it with us in the comments area below.