“Always have a pen and paper handy” is advice that I heard a lot growing up. I think it all started with keeping notes in school. Either way, it was advice that never stuck with me. Sure, I would write down the important stuff, but jotting down every thought, opinion, or idea that popped into my head seemed pointless to me. At least it did until I actually gave it a shot.
Recently while trying to come up with a topic for a 400 Project article, I came to find myself blocked. Watching the cursor flash on screen with no words behind it can be a demotivating thing. Certainly not the first time I have had this problem, but rather than just giving up and coming back to it another day, I decided to try something new. I picked up a note pad and a pen, stepped away from my screen and started to write.
I found myself easily writing down a bunch of random ideas I had. As the words began to flow out of me directly onto the page, I found myself inspired to turn my notes into an article. I let go of the pressure to put down my best ideas in my first pass. This was clearly a draft as I would need to type it up to get it online anyways. When typing I tend to write a sentence, and If I don’t like it simply delete it. The closest I can get to that on paper is crossing it out. I started to find myself taking a second pass at ideas I had previously given up on, or sentences I didn’t like, because they were still visible there on the page.
Having had a good experience, I found myself relying more and more on my notepad and pen. Not only for writing down article ideas, but also the random things that pop into my head throughout the day. It really helps to have a way to quickly write down a thought without having to take any extra steps. Honestly some of my favourite 400 articles I have worked on have come from random things that I happened to jot down.
Too tech savvy to use paper? Then give it a try with the digital notepad on your phone. Not exactly the same thing, but it accomplishes the same point. Use it to keep track of your thoughts and ideas while you are on the go. You may not always have a pen and paper handy, but you more than likely do always have your mobile device within arm’s reach. A digital pen and paper offers the same benefits. The important part is to take a minute at the end of the day (or week) to take a pass back thought them to see what you came up with.
Try it out! Set a pen and paper down next to your desk, or TV, or computer and jot down those random thoughts that pop into your head. You never know what you will end up creating!