In today’s age of “all digital,” I still maintain that nothing beats good old pen and paper when it comes to certain things (if you couldn’t already tell by my journal addiction confession).
Some people use grocery list apps on their phones. I still have a notepad on my fridge that I write things on throughout the week, and then bring with me to the store. And yes, I have to cross off each item on the list as it goes in the cart, or else I end up forgetting something.
I’ve had people laugh at me for using an actual paper planner, and not a fully electronic calendar.
I love lists. To-Do lists, packing lists for traveling, goal lists, travel destination bucket lists…I am definitely a list person. But it has to be on paper. Electronic lists just don’t have the tangibility of paper lists that I love so much.
Sure, I use Evernote and the basic Note app on my phone from time to time. But I still prefer pen and paper.
Beyond it being a preference, there are actually some great benefits to writing things down on paper versus electronically!
1. Capture Ideas As They Come
Have you ever had something come to mind, tell yourself to remember it, and then a couple of hours later (or even a couple minutes later sometimes!) you’ve completely forgotten what it was? I’ve fallen victim to that plenty of times!
It’s so easy for those little thoughts get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We forget what we were trying to keep locked in our brain, then stress out and get mad at ourselves when we just can’t recall what it was. By writing these things down, you don’t have to worry about remembering, you can just look back at your notes later in the day!
I know for myself, I often get a lot of my ideas for new projects (or ideas on how I could solve a certain problem in a current project) when I’m not actually working on anything creative.
I could be out and about and see or hear something that sparks an idea. Or a lot of times something will pop into my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep. I have a pretty good memory, but if I don’t write those ideas down as they happened, they would most likely be lost forever. That’s because, in that moment, a tiny idea is not at the forefront of what I’m doing, it’s just a side thought.
A simple solution to combat this problem is to carry around a mini notebook in my purse, and keep a small notepad on my nightstand (and I have plenty of other journals around my house that I can use as well). That way when an idea does come to mind, I can jot it down right away.
The advantage of doing this on paper versus on my phone, is that I can easily add sketches to my notes if I need to. Writing it out by hand also forms a stronger memory of the idea, so I’m more likely to retain it for a longer period of time (but when I do forget it, it’ll be right there for me to go back and look at!).
2. Build An “Idea Arsenal”
Every once in a while, our group of friends from church (along with their kids, of course) will get together and have a Nerf War in the Fellowship Hall. Tables get turned on their sides to act as barricades. Grown men turn into tactical professional wannabe’s (I’m talking full on diving over tables, army crawling to the enemy’s side to attempt a sneak attack, taking no mercy on their poor children…The men become the biggest kids on this day). And stray Nerf bullets are found in that part of the building for months on end after these gatherings. It is a really fun time.
If we were to lay out all of the guns and bullets that we collectively have as a group…it would easily cover ten 8-ft tables. At least. It is definitely one giant, pretty impressive, arsenal of weapons. But that arsenal wasn’t built all at once. It started out as a handful of guns and a few packs of bullets. Over time, each family added more and more weapons to the collection, until we reached the size we have today.
Think of your creative journey as a Nerf War.
As you collect bits of information, write or sketch all the ideas that come to you, and you’ll start to create a catalog of ideas that you can draw from in the future. Constantly be adding to your available weapons, write down all the ideas that you come up with – good or bad. Build up your “Idea Arsenal.”
Dong this will give you tons of material to work with as you are trying to come up with a new creative project. Or it could even help you solve a problem on a current project!
If you’re going to grow your creative capabilities, you will need to stock up and build your arsenal. Don’t step into the battle empty handed!
3. Spark New Ideas
Let’s talk movies for a minute. If you go back and watch a movie two or three times, on that second or third time you watch it, you start to notice things you missed the first time.
Confession: It took me like three or four times watching Finding Nemo to realize what the pufferfish in the tank says… Mount Wannahockaloogie. As soon as I caught that, I felt foolish for missing it all the times before. When it comes to creativity, sometimes you just need to revisit an old idea to come up with a new one.
It’s been said that an idea is simply “A new combination of old elements.” Not having a written catalog (arsenal) of ideas to choose from makes finding old elements to combine a lot harder. If you do have it written down, you can easily go back and look at past notes, sketches, and entries. As you do this, you will see things in a new way and make new connections. Those connections can spark lots of new ideas!
As I’m writing down one idea or working on one project, something always seems to spark another idea for a completely different project! This happens quite a lot actually. So in order to organize those thoughts, I have to write them down. If I stopped working on what I was initially doing, and changed gears to the new idea, I would never get anything done. My brain would be in constant “pinball machine” mode, ideas flying all over the place. Then when I go back later and review what I wrote down, another idea is sparked. It’s a vicious cycle (vicious in a good way though – you can never have too many ideas!).
Keep A “Creative Notebook”
By now I hope that I have convinced you to start writing things down to help grow your creativity (if not, go back to the top and read this post again. Just kidding. Maybe…).
You could certainly write your ideas on random pieces of paper and post it notes here and there, but the way to gain the most out of your writing efforts is to write them all in one place. It makes it so much easier to keep track of your ideas, easier to look back at old notes, and it helps you track your progress and your growth.
I encourage you to keep a “Creative Notebook” to store all your ideas in. You can use any notebook you’d like, whether it’s a fancy art journal or a simple spiral bound notebook. What matters is that you just write down, in one place, all of your ideas.
Clearly I have no shortage of options to choose from for this task, with my overabundance of sketchbooks and journals and all. But if you aren’t an addict like me and need to buy a notebook, I have the perfect solution for you: Composition Notebooks. They are a SUPER simple option to go with, but you can still add your own personal touch to make it your own, by recovering them with patterned scrapbook paper, or even patterned contact paper! It’s becoming one of my new favorite options for quick brainstorming sessions.
Whether you think your ideas are great, or you think your ideas need some work…write them down! If you already do this, I’d love to hear how it helps your creativity! And If you are just starting out with this, let me know how it’s going!
Until next time…Happy writing!