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Idea Journals – Battling Bloggers Block

Idea-JournalThis is part 2 in the Battling Bloggers Block Series

2. Keep an idea Journal – I have a little Moleskine notebook (pictured) that I carry everywhere with me. I use it for all kinds of purposes but largely it’s for capturing random thoughts and ideas – often for speaking and blogging.

Idea journals are great in the short term as they are great for recording those impulsive ideas that flow through my mind all day everyday and for creating ‘to do’ lists for immediate action. However I also find them great in the long term and occasionally get my older idea journals out and flick through them to find unused creative ideas that I never go around to implementing.

It’s often when flicking through idea journals in this way that an idea leaps out. In fact the interesting thing I’ve noticed is that it’s often these discarded ideas that simmer away over time and seem to mature into my best posts.

I know I’m a bit old fashioned in writing my ideas down in a book – I know many of you use PDAs and computers to do the same thing – but I’m a bit of a visual kind of guy and like to draw diagrams, arrows between ideas and to doodle while I dream.

How ever you do it – an idea journal can be a valuable tool on many levels for bloggers.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Brad says:

    I also have a journal such as this. In fact I have 3 of them. I use one for work, and is not limited to blogging.

    My second stays in my car.

    The third is normally in my back pocket, or inside my jacket pocket.

    I find it really works out well. SOOOOO many ideas I had fogotten about because I did not write them down.

  2. Ben Helps says:

    I have some of my best thoughts while riding on the bike.

    The solution? I’m hacking up a voice recorder for the helmet.

  3. Mike says:

    For those of us that spend a lot of time on the road, there are two things you can not do without.

    1) A digital voice recorder, which makes idea tracking even easier than a notebook..

    and

    2) A headset for your cell phone. Mine is a lifesaver in more than the literal sense.

  4. Leo F says:

    I agree that a small journal is very important. I have tried to carry my PDA, but it’s not that good to enter text fast, and especially bad for diagrams or drawings. Since I got my moleskine I’ve been able to capture ideas much more efficiently.

    regards,
    Leo
    logsense.com

  5. Greg Hoffman says:

    I never leave home without my moleskin. I don’t plan on drawing like Van Gogh or writing like Hemingway, but the little black book sure does come in handy – no batteries needed.

  6. row1 says:

    I’ve started to keep a paper journal, its fantastic. I prefer to draw pictures than actually writing anything. If only I had a scanner then I could just upload a .png for blog entries…although I guess a lot of people might not understand my random scribblings.
    I was previously writting notes down in a PDA, I found palm pilots to be much better than pocket pcs, palm does a great job of converting scribbles into text.

  7. EngLee says:

    I’ve one too. But going to get a PDA in near future. I’ll probably write and edit blog content directly, not just ideas.

  8. Drew says:

    Just a little typo … “This is part 2 in the Battling Bloggers Blog Series” should be “This is part 2 in the Battling Bloggers Block Series”. I noticed this many many times whenever I write, like I think I’m writing something correctly but the longer I go over it I discover all my mistakes. Here’s another tip: Proofread, or, let others proofread your stuff because sometimes you’re immune to your own mistakes and that makes it hard to find them.

  9. Brad D. says:

    What I generally do is carry around a notepad and write down my ideas in quick note form. I have a pretty good memory so I can jolt back to exactly what was going on at the time. Then I write the story out on a non-crawled blog for editing. I generally play with it for awhile, then I post it to the blog I wanted it to end up at. It’s a bit of a filter process but the final product works out nicely.

  10. Zantor says:

    I often write down short dot points about different ideas to blog about. If I don’t I’ll usually forget them later on, although I often do anyway.

  11. I also write down all my article ideas in a notebook. There’s nothing like the genuine feeling of holding a pen and actually writing. I’ve tried the PDA stuff, but it just doesn’t work for me.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that I often get ideas just as I’m about to fall asleep at night, so I keep a notebook on my bedside table as well.

  12. I definitely need to keep one in my car. Most of my best ideas come to me at traffic lights, but by the time I get home they’re gone.

    All those great ideas I’ve lost: world peace, replacement for fossil fuels, sorted out famine and reformed Led Zeppelin….

    Gotta buy me a notepad…..

  13. Simon Pole says:

    One word: wiki. I’ve set up a simple wiki in a subdomain that I can access from any computer, on the road etc. Wiki’s are easy to scribble in and save, and the hyperlinking between pages makes it easy to follow your thoughts.

    Wiki software (and there’s a ton out there) doesn’t need to be as complex as Wikipedia (which uses Media Wiki). I’m current using phpwiki — which is a solution for one person, as it doesn’t have individual user accounts and is very small. Phpwiki doesn’t require a database either. Just uses a flat file structure.

    Another solution if you have more than one user is pmwiki.

  14. For the last year, I’ve carried around a notebook and record various ideas, information sources, interesting websites, results from analytical work I’ve done, etc.

    While sometimes I wish it was organized (though a handful of more focused journals would be too cumbersome), I always seem to find the information I want and it is a record of what I was thinking at a time, though I date entries only sporadically.

  15. Curt says:

    I really like my PDA, but there’s just something about pen to paper that doesn’t lose its appeal. I still keep a Moleskine journal and smaller ones for ideas and jotting. I’m glad to see they’ve made such a comeback. They’re even easier to get now than a few years ago. I even get them cheaper on eBay.

  16. Yzabel says:

    I keep a notebook as well. Not only for ideas, I also use it to note down addresse/phone numbers, since it’s always convenient to have a slip of paper under the hand when I meet someone and want to keep some contact information about them. It’s proved so very useful over the years (I’ve stacked quite a few). I jot down novel ideas in it, plot twists, possible topics for blogging, etc. Of course, I’d better not take too much time to exploit the ideas, else they get lost in the vast amount of text in there, but in general, it’s a good thing that I have the precious little notebook under the hand at all times.

  17. Andrew says:

    I love journals.

    I suggest just keeping one journal for everything, I used to write my thoughts down all over the place but now just whack everything in the one place. Interviews, Seminars, Research, Diary, Jottings.

    Best for me is an A4 journal with a hard cover as I want them to last a lifetime in my bookcase.

  18. BJ says:

    I love journals, especially Moleskin journals. There’s something about the feeling of holding pen to paper. I am very attached to journal “themes”, so I have journals everywhere for everything you can think of. Technology is great, and I wouldn’t be without my keyboard, but there are lots of times when I prefer to sit down and just mess around in a journal.

  19. SouthPark says:

    Hey,

    You guys are blogging nuts. Have you tried *not* blogging for a few minutes?

    : )

    Go on, see who can stay away the longest!

  20. Dee says:

    Great idea. I usually carry around a regular mini notebook,since I never know when a good idea will pop into my head. My notebook is kind of falling apart though, so I think I’ll invest in something sturdier like the moleskin journal you mention above.

  21. I use a simple text file, but formatted for easy retrieval. For the interested, I talk about it here:

    Pickle jars, text files, and creative idea capture
    http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2005/11/pickle-jars-text-files-and-creative.html

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