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  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg, CPO-CD

The Organized Pen: Day 4 | INFORMATION

Day 4 of The Organized Pen - capturing those brilliant ideas that come to you

As a writer, you get lots of ideas dropping into your head at the most inopportune moments.

Some common places you’ll be when you get your ideas.

  • In your writing space

  • In your home but not in your writing space

  • In the shower

  • Out and about

  • While driving

  • When you’re in bed, dropping off to sleep or waking in the middle of the night

On Day 1, I asked if you preferred paper or electronic. That was a general preference that you might have answered thinking about your preference for writing (paper or electronic), reading (paper or electronic), or your calendar tool (paper or electronic). Your preference might be different based on what you’re doing. You also may prefer one format but use the other one because it’s more convenient. Your preference will be important as you work through today’s topic, how to capture your ideas.

Identify several ways that you can capture those ideas that pop into your mind. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing, one tool or format might work better than another.

The intentions for collecting your ideas are:

  1. capture ideas before you forget them,

  2. collect and safely store them, then

  3. retrieve them when you’re ready to act.

In future articles, I’ll delve into making time to go through those ideas (retrieval). You’re storing them not to store them but to retrieve them, so you do need to make time to review your ideas now and again, but that’s for later.

For now, let’s look at how you can get those brilliant ideas captured and safely collected.


STOP writing ideas on random scraps of paper. You’ve met the first intention (get the ideas down), but you are dangerously close to violating the second (safely collecting). It’s too easy to toss an open envelope thinking you’re done with it. If it has your next book idea or a great quote, you may not see it. Or worse, you save every scrap of paper just in case you wrote on it, but you never make the time to sort through and toss the real trash.

  • USE a notebook instead. One notebook!

  • If you like using sticky notes, put them in the notebook.

If you still prefer random pieces of paper (or it’s just a habit you can’t kick yet), then do two more things with that piece of paper.

  • Add a symbol or marking to tell you this was an idea for your writing. You could draw a book 📖 icon, a pen ✏ symbol, a 💡idea, or ⚠ KEEP.

  • Collect them daily or at least weekly and put them in an IDEA box.


Use the tool that you’re already carrying around with you, which may not be too far from your hand at any given moment — your smartphone.

Learn about your phone’s built-in apps or tools and try them out.

Note taking apps for any platform

Voice recording apps

  • Easy Voice Recorder (Android)

  • Voice Memos (Apple)

  • Recorder (Google)

For iPhones

  • Notes

  • Voice Memos

  • Microphone button on any on-screen keyboard — dictation in that app

Learn how to your use your voice assistant on a smartphone or smart speakers to take notes, send yourself emails, and more.

  • Amazon’s Alexis

  • Apple’s Siri

  • Google’s Assistant

  • Microsoft’s Cortana

  • Samsung’s Bixby

There are privacy and security concerns for voice assistants.

Of course, if you have strict guidelines on phone use, then these ideas might not work for you. Determine what you need, when you need it, and then decide what tools will work for you.

Before I started using Notion, I would send myself an email with a subject line beginning with ‘TD’ (To Do). I could then filter for TD and there are my notes and ideas.

Regardless of where you send your messages, you will need to review them and get them into your final IDEA box/file. But we’ll address that later.

So… how will you capture and safely store those brilliant ideas? Let me know if you’re using an app, voice assistant, or tool I didn’t mention.

Next, let's look at your External Support.

TL;DR --  STOP writing ideas on random scraps of paper.  But if you do still use paper, use a notebook — ONE notebook  Learn how to use your phone’s apps for voice recording and note taking If your phone’s built-in apps don’t work check out one of these: o Notion  o Evernote o	OneNote o	Google Keep


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