Saving Acorns: Being Prepared For What Comes


Hello, everyone! Time goes so fast doesn’t it? I’ve been meaning to get a post up here for weeks now but I just kept getting overwhelmed by schoolwork. That also means I haven’t been writing though. (Aside from class papers, that is.) But even though I am not writing, I still have ideas and inspired moments about the project I have going. And I always have ideas about future projects that I know I won’t be able to get to anytime soon.

Sage Cohen, author of The Productive Writer, tells us that even though we can’t be seated at our desk with notebook open and pen poised every time an idea hits us, it is realistic to have fast, efficient systems for “capturing the seed of an idea and storing it for later.” She calls these little vessels of future writing, “acorns.”

In her book, she gives us some possible systems and strategies for being prepared for what comes and getting it down quickly. You may only need one of these, or maybe a mix of them, depending on when inspiration hits you.

Index Cards: This old school tool is one of my favorites because it’s easy to use and I am comforted by seeing my own handwriting. I stash index cards where I sleep, where I work, eat, and travel. So any time I have an idea, there’s a fast and easy way to write it down.

Voice Recorder: Voice recorders are faster than writing and being rapidly more accessible. Your cell phone is even likely to have one. Just keep in mind that there’s a transcription step that involves committing your spoken notes to pages.

Notebook: For years I did my freewriting in plain, cheap notebooks so I wouldn’t feel pressured to write “important” stuff. These days, I prefer prettier, more substantial journals, but I keep the same idea with myself. Don’t be too precious with them. Just let ‘er rip. The important thing is to make sure  you’re comfortable with it and likely to write in any style you choose.

Digital Notes: Your cell phone, PDA, and/or computer are all great places to type up a fleeting thought, depending on where you are.

Sticky Notes: Sticky notes are a useful way to capture something fast and stick it somewhere prominent. Some people enjoy digital sticky notes, but I feel they get buried behind what I am working on.

Whiteboard: If positioned proximate to your moments of genius, whiteboards can be a great temporary home for a fleeting idea.

Computer Document: I have a single computer document titled “Acorns,” where I type all ideas that need to land somewhere. I always type my most recent idea at the top of the document.”

What do you guys think of Ms. Cohen’s suggestions? Do you have a particular place you keep track of your ideas? Let me know in the comments.

Also, wish me luck. I have a big project I am handing in today for my English class. I worked really hard on it and my teacher is kind of tough, so cross your fingers for me!

-Kelly

(Image by Jacqueline-w)

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