Putting in Idea Pockets by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

By meggin@meggin.com
In Writers
Jan 5th, 2013

girl thinkingIn case you haven’t heard me talk about it before, I use the word “pockets” to represent the protected places where you keep a space, a reserve, a possibility.  We all need pockets in many areas of our life, but as writers, we need to put in pockets of (and for) ideas.  We need to always make sure to capture ideas as they are occurring, because sometimes when you need a good idea, it doesn’t come then. (Darn it!)

At any given moment (some of which are more convenient than others), ideas will come to you. Some of these ideas are major, some are minor, but when you don’t capture the ideas, they whirl around in your head. This not only diverts your attention away from the other work or pleasure on which you need to be focusing but it’s also risky to ignore them because they might not come back!  The following are possible means for capturing your ideas as they’re occurring, so you have them for later processing.

  1. When you’re at your desk, write down ideas on a piece of paper and drop them into your inbox.
  1. Have an “idea” tab in your planner (either paper or electronic). Write down incoming ideas in a designated spot.
  1. Call and leave yourself voicemail messages. I do it all the time when I’m driving (a prime time for ideas to arrive, unbidden!)
  1. Record ideas on a voice or digital recorder. There are tiny ones available and many cell phones also have this feature.
  1. Send yourself email. If the idea pops into your head when you are working on email, just send one to yourself with the idea.
  1. Keep a pad nearby that you love to write on and delight in jotting down thoughts and ideas as they come to you.
  1. Snag one of the omnipresent post-it® notes that are around–or keep a small packet of them in a pocket or pouch.  Later, you can flesh out the idea but for now, you just need to get it written down.
  1. Invest in the perfect pen so you’ll have a positive feeling about the idea as you write it down.
  1. Now what if you need to generate an abundance of ideas? Here are two keys for doing so–and expanding your idea pockets:Get out a fresh pad or open up a new document on your computer. Write a question at the top of the page and then number from 1 – 30. Start writing possible solutions or ideas that will address the question you started with. Don’t edit, don’t censor, don’t worry about plausibility. Just write. The first 15 are likely to be fairly run-of-the-mill ideas. But you have to clear those out first. On about idea #15 or 16 or so, new and different ideas will emerge–and you couldn’t have gotten to those until you cleared out the old ideas. Feel free to blast right past #30, but at least get to 30. You will surprise yourself.
  1. Mind map by putting an issue, question, or word prompt in the middle of a large (at least 11 x 17″) piece of paper. Then just draw spokes out from the center node and start writing (or drawing) what comes to you. Keep going. You will surprise yourself, I promise.  Note:  If you’d like to access the recent webinar I did on mindmapping, just go here:  http://meggin.com/classes/mindmapping/.

Whew! You are chock-full of ideas.   And you’ve captured them so they are ready for you when you need them. You have pockets of ideas! Hooray!

Keep your focus on pockets as you move forward.  Just search this site for a number of other articles I’ve written about pockets or access one of the booklets I’ve published on the topic.

© Meggin McIntosh, PhD (also known as “The PhD of Productivity”®). One of the ways that you can learn from Meggin about productive writing is through her 30 Articles in Just 30 Days program (www.30ArticlesinJust30Days.com). 

If you like these tips you will want to access the Get a Plan! Guide® to Deliberately Designing Your Professional Presence part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series designed so that you can accomplish your goals more smoothly, i.e., peacefully, productively, and predictably.