Writers/Bloggers: How do you record your ideas?

06/03/2015 Blogging, Discussions, Writing 33

Writers/Bloggers: How do you record your ideas?Anyone who has ever done any form of writing will know that ideas can come at any time, and anywhere. Apparently inspiration doesn’t care about convenience, and may elude you when you sit down at your desk to write, yet strike when you’re busy paying for your double cheeseburger meal in McDonalds (true story!).

Therefore it’s essential that writers have some way of recording and collecting their ideas, because unfortunately even the most inspired of ideas can disappear just as quickly as it came!

Writers/Bloggers: How do you record your ideas?Personally I have two methods of recording my ideas, one for convenience whilst I’m on the go, and another for more detailed drafting and note taking when in the comfort of my own home (both of which can be seen to the left).

The wonder of technology is my first method, and the one I use for very quick notes eg. the title of a blog post/story/article, or for drafting and recording whilst I’m out, should inspiration strike. The phone app Evernote is without a doubt an invaluable tool for recording on the spot ideas, as well as keeping them organized. You can create separate ‘Notebooks’ which you can give different titles: some of mine include ‘Blog Post Ideas’, ‘Fiction Ideas’, ‘Article Ideas’, as well as a separate notebook for my invaluable ‘To Do Lists’ (I would literally forget everything without this notebook!). Also because your notebooks are saved to your account and not to your phone, you can access them from all your other devices such as your laptop or tablet.

My second method of recording ideas is an actual, physical notebook, and a very pretty one it is too! I bought my sparkly leopard print notepad from Paperchase (I could literally spend all my money in there!) a few months ago, and I have already nearly filled it with everything from drafts of blog posts, to review notes and scraps of fiction and freewriting. There’s even a couple of random diary entries in there!

So I was interested in how other writers and bloggers collate and record their ideas. I have heard of people who take around small notebooks everywhere, as their own personal version of Evernote, as well as people who simply write things on whatever scrap of paper is nearest to hand. I also know of people who do all their idea recording electronically, either on their computers, tablets or phones.

So what about you? How do you record your ideas? And how do you deal with incredible yet inconvenient epiphanies when you are busy or out and about?

33 Responses to “Writers/Bloggers: How do you record your ideas?”

  1. Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination

    Idea recording is so important because it’s the basis of all the writing that I do. I wouldn’t say that I’m extremely organized with my idea recording, but my method works for me. For blogging ideas, I created a huge document that is basically a list of possible blog post titles. That way, I can scroll through that document and pick an idea when I have no other ideas for a blog post. For writing ideas I have an idea notebook filled with plotting, outlines and tons of ideas. It’s a mess because it’s hard to organize pages when they’re not in a binder, but I love it that way. For some reason it just gives off this creative air, you know? And if I’m on the go and have no way to write down a brilliant idea that I just came up with, I usually repeat it over and over again in my head until I can write it down. It works pretty well, actually.

    • Laura

      I wish I could do the memory thing, but if I try and repeat things in my head then it tends to end up getting garbled!
      I like the idea of a computer document full of blog titles. My Evernote folder works kind of like that, where I just flick through and pick an idea if I can’t think of what to blog about. It’s great for when I get writer’s block!
      And I get what you mean with the whole ‘creative air’ of a notebook. Mine is a total mess too, and sometimes it will take me ages to find something I know I wrote down, but I like the authenticity of it, because you can tell that it’s all just on the spot ideas.

  2. Maddy E

    I personally write all my ideas on my handy dandy smartphone. I don’t know how I could live without my google account, because it contains most of my life. I do write ideas in my planner on occasion, but that’s usually when I’m in school or my phone is off.

    • Laura

      Smartphones really are so handy for idea recording! I think mine is pretty essential for blogging in general because most of the blog posts I read are through the Bloglovin app and I use apps for all my social media accounts.

  3. Ardelia

    If I get a good idea while I’m out, I’ll make a note of it in my phone. I use Evernote on my computer when I’m at home. However, your post has convinced me that I need Evernote for my phone, so I just got it. 🙂 I don’t know why I didn’t get it before.

    I love Evernote. It’s been so long since I’ve opened a Word document (my previous note-taking method) that they’ve almost become foreign to me. I also have a To Do list in Evernote. I wouldn’t know what to do without it.

    I used to take notes and write drafts by hand, but I found that I type a lot faster than I write. I had a hard time keeping up with all my thoughts when I did handwritten notes, so I like being able to (mostly) keep up with my speed of thought. Plus, I’m a perfectionist, so typing things up keeps them looking nice, and cutting and pasting is such a convenient feature.

    • Laura

      I have used Evernote on my computer before, but I mostly use it on my phone because it’s great for out and about.
      I think I type a lot faster than I write too, but when I get an idea I have to write it down quick before I forget it, so it’s easier to just get my notebook out than to boot up my computer. I do wish I could do more notes on the computer though because seeing my own messy handwriting where I have scribbled down a quick idea is pretty annoying. It would look so much nicer all typed up, and sometimes my writing is so messy that it’s like trying to decipher a code when I read it back! 🙂

  4. Nordie @ Writing about books

    I have an unpublished post on my blog where I dump prompts or ideas for potential posts, in some form of theme (“top tens”, “favourite…..” etc). When I’m feeling inspired, I reach into that post to look for a subject I might be interested in, and start riffing on that. It’s very rare that I’ll have a post ready to go in one sitting, so I save it as a draft, and come back to it maybe days, weeks or months later and tweak it. Some posts are better than others. Perhaps I need to work on that….

    • Laura

      An unpublished post for your ideas sounds like a great idea! I very rarely write an entire post in one sitting either, but I tend to draft them in Word and then copy and paste them.
      I also feel like some of my blog posts are a lot better than others, and there are some I have definitely struggled to write more than others. I always find reviews harder to write than other posts so I sometimes feel like they aren’t as good as my discussion posts or writing related posts.

  5. Precious @ Clockwork Desires

    I have a notebook where I keep track of my ideas, but I also have use Evernote to write ideas down when I’m on the go. I also recently discovered Trello, which I heard is great for organizing your blogging “stuff”, so I hope it works out.

    • Laura

      I had never heard of Trello, but I just googled it and it does sound like a pretty handy app! I will have to download it and give it a go.

  6. Terri M., the Director

    A notebook that I carry in my purse. There’s something about the physicality of writing the idea down on a piece of paper that makes it stick and grow. I’ve never been able to replicate that via my smart devices.

    Terri M., the Director
    Second Run Reviews

    • Laura

      That’s a good point. Although I find it easier to read back my ideas onscreen (because I have really messy handwriting, especially when I write fast!) I do really like writing on paper, and I like having a physical record of my ideas that I can flick through and look back at. Some of them I will probably never use, but it’s nice to have!

  7. Rosalie Royan

    I think I’m very lucky in the sense that I don’t just get ideas, but rather they come to me and basically stalk me until I write them down. The last time it happened there was literally a two week space between the conception of the idea and when I finally wrote something on paper. But poems I really do just have to write in the moment and I’ve done it on the back of notes for class and then when I got a smartphone I just put it all on google drive.

    • Laura

      I really wish my ideas would stalk me! I think my problem is just having a really terrible memory, so even if I have a really good idea I can forget it within a couple of hours if I have been doing other things and haven’t had time to write it down.

    • Laura

      That sounds like a good system! I especially like the idea of a discussion post list, because they are the ones I find hardest to come up with off the top of my head.

  8. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    If I have an idea for a blog post (my main form of writing these days), I create a draft and jot down some of my ideas in there. The rest of the composition usually takes place in my head as I go about other tasks until I have a chance to sit down and type it out. With this method I have to be sure not to hit “publish” by mistake!

    • Laura

      I try and do that too where I compose a post/story etc. in my head, but I usually think ‘wow, that’s pretty good’, and then when I come to write it, I realise I have completely forgotten it all, which is annoying!
      And I like the idea of writing blog posts straight into a draft post. I usually write my blog posts in Word and then copy and paste them but it would be a lot easier just to type it up straight into a draft (although I’m exactly the kind of person who would hit ‘Publish’ by mistake!).

  9. Tabitha (not yet read)

    I always seem to get good ideas while I am driving and can’t really record them til I pull over, which sucks. I guess I could voice record them if I got an app of some kind on my phone that could do that but it would still be too dangerous to do while driving.

    But at other times I just type them up on my phone in my email drafts section. Course I always have lots of typos because of the swipe auto word. Lol

    • Laura

      I sometimes get ideas when I’m driving too, and that is the worst because I know I will probably have forgotten them by the time I get wherever I’m going!
      And I always tend to have a lot of nonsensical words in my notes on my phone because of autocorrect. I usually start typing a word and then it changes it to another that makes no sense, and then when I read my notes back I have to try and guess what I had meant to put. But that’s technology for you – it thinks it knows best!

  10. Kaja

    I use Evernote and have it synced for my phone and computer so I can access my notes when I’m writing reviews and such, but like you, I use an old-school notebook as well. Currently, I have an almost-full hardback Moleskine, the Hobbit eddition, which was a gift from my mom (she knows me so well!) – it comes with a map and all. I use it both as a planner and a journal, it’s a bit of a mess sometimes, but I love it.

    • Laura

      My notebook is a total mess too, and I can always remember writing something in it but can never find what I’m looking for. I do kind of like the chaotic feel of it though! In a weird way I find it kind of inspires me just flicking through it all, even if there’s no order to it.
      And your notebook sounds pretty awesome – I love the Hobbit!

  11. Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales

    Well,like all bloggers,I maintain a notebook.But addition to that,I have my own method as well.I record my ideas-literally.Whenever inspiration strikes me at random times,I just briefly speak those ideas out loud and record them in my phone.

    • Laura

      That sounds like a good system. I would never have thought to record myself saying ideas out loud, but I will maybe have to give that a try!

  12. Topaz @ Six Impossible Things

    I actually have five notebooks, all for different purposes, and I carry around one of them (my sketchbook/journal/catchall notebook) everywhere I go. That’s what I use to jot down ideas when I’m not at home – but when it’s really, REALLY inconvenient, like in the middle of a test or something, I have been known to write on my hands. True story: one time my family was totally and absolutely convinced that I had a secret boyfriend, due to the copious number of notes on my hands about somebody named Neil. (That somebody, of course, turned out to be a character in one of my books… and you should have seen their faces when they found out!)

    • Laura

      😀 ha ha! That really made me laugh about your secret boyfriend Neil! I used to write stuff on my hands a lot too but I would always forget and then wash it off before I had got round to writing it down somewhere (that’s how bad my memory is – I can forget about something when it’s written on my hand)!
      And I like the idea of having different notebooks for different things. I have one notebook for everything from blog post ideas to story drafts, and can never find anything!

  13. Rekha Mishra

    Whenever I get idea, I really dont have these tools to note it down and I forget.. Like when I go for a bath, when I am giving exams and so on..

    Normally, I do write ideas in the notes app..

    By the way thank you for the post.. Reading everyone’s comment here do makes me understand inportance of writing ideas 🙂

    • Laura

      I hate when you get and idea and then don’t have anywhere to record it! That has happened to me before, and it’s pretty annoying.
      And I’m glad you have found the post helpful. Everyone’s responses have been really interesting! I was really curious as to how other people keep track of their ideas.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  14. Karen Blue

    I much prefer paper to record my lists. I have been obsessed with stationary forever. I have to fight the urge to go to the site you mentioned. I use a paper calender for all my blog posts and upcoming tours and release date recording. Also, I can easily look and see what a week or month looks like for me. So I don’t overbook or under-book myself.
    I also keep a blank, unlined, notebook to record things in. It was plain black, but I added stickers to it (that’s a bit dorky I know, I love stickers). I have a list of book release dates/promised review dates listed and a separate list for books with previous release dates. It feels so good to draw a line through them when I get them written. I also have lists in my book for blog ideas, and words I love. I put all the publishers business cards into this book, too. I am a little obsessed with lists. I tried evernote, and wunderlist to record these things, but it isn’t in my face like my black book is. I forgot to update my digital lists a few times.
    Great topic!

    • Laura

      It sounds like you’re very organised! And I’m pretty obsessed with stationary myself. I have two other notebooks (both from Paperchase as well!) lined up for when I finish my current one, because I just can’t stop buying notebooks!
      And I really need to start doing things like keeping a calendar (or at least some kind of diary!) because although I do make daily to do lists in Evernote, I have forgotten to check them a few times too. A physical calendar on the wall that is easily seen sounds like a good idea!

      • Karen Blue

        My calender isn’t on the wall. It is a kind of big paper calender with just the months (not days or weeks) on full pages. It has been really helpful for scheduling tours and penciling in possible tour dates.

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