Writing begins with planting ideas.

You know when you have a writing streak? Or worse, before you’re even there – a writing itch? Heck yeah, I get it all the time. At least, all the time at the worst kind of time.

  • On the train. But you’re standing up.
  • On the bus. But you have to hang onto a pole.
  • At 5:30pm on a Friday when you’re about to have drinks with your friends.
  • Thursday afternoon after lunch but you have to return to work. Damn.
  • Saturday night when you’re at the club… WTF?
  • Some other Saturday night when you are seeing your favourite band – AKA the band of the century – and there’s probably gonna be a lot of moshing, so forget even thinking about what you want to write.
  • On the weekend when you are driving your younger sibling to soccer practice or ballet class.
  • At some just-my-luck moment in a cafe when you decide to stop surfing the internet and actually write but your laptop has 6% battery.
  • Really late at night but your eyes are about to fall out of your head because your body wants you to sleep right now.

Been there? Yep. And you know you can do better than that, but you can’t even bother jotting down an idea that you have. I know. I’ve been there too. Like, what is the point in writing down an idea or a topic that you want to write about when you don’t even have an opportunity to write it right now?

Well, there is your mistake, my friend. Despite the fact that, yes, just writing something down doesn’t mean you are making progress, that is where you are fooling yourself. Writing it down is opening the door. It’s really up to you to revisit that note and chug out the words in your head.

I cannot remember when I started my list, but I started a small list of blog topics a few years ago. A few years ago. At the time, I laughed at myself because I wasn’t a person of ideas, I just wanted to “write when something comes to me”. Which is how I write my poetry – somewhat unplanned – but some things need not just attention, but love, in the first place. It wasn’t until last year that I started coming up with what I believed were more valuable ideas. When I look at my list, I get more ideas branching out from what I’ve got, and I feel more encouraged to write those ideas in full.

If you write down an idea, it’s like planting a seed. Over time, if you care to, you will revisit your list of ideas and be reminded of the idea you had at the time, allowing the idea to grow. This is why it is handy to have a list.

A list (and this applies to all lists of “things”, not just ideas or notes) is not meant to be something that haunts you every night when you try to sleep or makes you think you are carrying a heavy weight on your shoulders.

It is not something to sit on your second desktop monitor and appear full every time you look at it and stress about what you “need to do”.

Because believe it or not, in your life, there is always something to do. Writing something down should only be a reminder. If you are writing down an idea, it is an opportunity for you to build up the idea and let it blossom.

It’s not going to blossom if it’s sitting in the back of your mind, unplanted. So get out there, cover your wall in sticky notes, or make a new, fresh, and well-loved list, or give yourself seven minutes and a cup of tea and just write.

Comments on this post

My best ideas always come to me when I’m about to go to bed, or when I’m busy revising or working on coursework. Typical.

I have a bad habit of starting a new post on WordPress, typing the first sentence of the post and then leaving it unfinished, probably never to see the light of day again. I recently went through my drafts and found about 50 post ideas that I never bothered to make into actual posts.

I used to start writing posts in WordPress and then revisit them eventually, but I found that if I put them (or at least their topics) with my other “things to do”, I was reminded of it more often, and sometimes even though I didn’t have time to sit down and write more on those topics, I would think about it in the shower, before I went to sleep, on the train – which motivated me more to get onto them. I hope you find some good ideas in your collection. :D

You always did love lists from what I remember. I believe you had a huge wall of sticky notes at one point.

I have gone a little crazy trying to organize my life a little after a hectic two years of university. I lost time for a lot of hobbies that I loved in my life. Lists really help to get one back on track, and I rely everyday on my planner to get me through work, school, the business I am starting and even now working on my portfolio and blog.

I think as we get older we start to forget more, so lists become a more natural habit. I too have looked through my old Word press site and found drafts with a title and three sentences. Now no matter where I am, if I have an idea, I write it in my planner and then review it at the end of the day, once all my tasks are checked off.

I did love them! For a while I stopped writing them because I was pulled into that mindset of having a lot on my plate, and constantly being haunted by “all the things I need to do”. I had to take a step back and treat the list as reminders rather than “you must do this right now”.

I am glad you have found yourself more organised and getting back int your hobbies after university. I found it was the same for me, and even now I’m still making sure I nurture my love for the things I love to do. I think it’s great that you put aside a bit of time in your day to revisit your ideas. :)

I’m always full of ideas. However, I never write them down. I keep them stored in my memory until further use. There has been a few times, however, that I have written a few stories that I thought were decent enough to become a short story or even a novel. And that would be the time that I would write them down. I can’t begin to tell you how many of my friends have yelled or “scolded” me for not writing these stories down. They know I’m a creative person and constantly thinking of different ideas for stories and/or poems or digital artworks. But, I’ve heard that when you come from a dysfunctional family, the more creative you are. I’m not sure if that’s true. But, look at us. You and I (and everyone else) are blogging and creating amazing layouts. Tristan (my boyfriend) has been in a lot of bands through out his teenage years. So, may be it’s true?

There is a lot of research and some studies out there that support the fact that autistic children (for example) or troubled children are very intelligent and creative. I’m not sure if I would completely go by that, but I do consider myself a creative person. :) You should write down your ideas, no matter how big or small they are. You never know when you might be inspired by one again in future!

This is the reason I keep a paper and pen by my bed, on my “nightstand” sort of thing… I mean, it’s a table, not really a nightstand specifically. I also write daily. I used to just ignore my ideas/hope I’d remember them later, but I’d keep forgetting them—or I would remember I had them, but I wouldn’t actually remember.

I’ve been considering using sticky notes, honestly! They seem easy to stick other ideas onto/under, as well as to move around, for better-ish brainstorming. I have a notebook right now, but I also have these chalk markers I can use to write on surfaces that work well with dry-erase markers… or on the ground, but I feel they’d be ruined. My mirror isn’t filled yet, but they’re rather handy to have in terms of needing to get an idea down and in a place where I will actually see it.

I think seeing ideas is a necessity, too. It’s so easy to write something down once you get to it, but actually looking at it is needed to really, truly plant that seed.

Sticky notes are often used in “card sorting” when teams try to figure out the best information architecture for a product. In the same way, we can use it to organise our ideas. :D I found that using one sticky note per task makes me feel good about completing tasks, but for ideas I am more of a list person. I have many ideas so I also prefer to note them digitally.

This really speaks to me. I always have a million ideas but most of the time I don’t write them down so I quickly forget them and they’re lost forever. I have a note in Evernote and a list in Todoist so I have no excuse!

I used to think that I could rely on my memory, until I found myself asking “what should I write about?” all the time because I never wrote down the good ideas I had during the day. I definitely got stuck in the dread of having a list that wasn’t empty, too. After getting out of that I learned to embrace writing ideas, even if they are small and need to sit there for a while before you think of something awesome to do with it. :D