Write it Down When You Have It

I have talked with several people recently, each time realizing the importance to many industries of writing ideas down when you get them.  

This idea was further realized when Michelle and I read a sample chapter of a book on her iPad on our recent vacation.  The book Your Brain at Work by David Rock shares the science behind this.  The prefrontal cortex of our brain is the outer covering of our brain that sits just behind our forehead.  It is this part of our brain which we use to process ideas, make decisions and solve problems.  Rock compares this process to a stage play.  It is difficult to focus on several "actors" or things which vie for our attention at once.  People from the "audience" or memories sometimes try to get on stage and vie for our attention.  Or at times we try to recollect memories by pulling them from the audience.  The farther back the memory, the more energy it takes to recall them.  Essentially, we have a hard time going through our day while trying to retain creative ideas.  It also takes a lot of energy to recall these ideas the further we get from having them.  This is why it is important to write it down when we have it.  Here's some practical ways I practice this:

I don't sit down to write blogs and hope something comes to me.  I keep notes on my iPhone notepad (you can pretty much use anything - event a pen and notebook).  Ideas come because of a great conversation, a thought during prayer, while reading the Scriptures, reading some good book, or for whatever other reason.  When I get epiphanies that I feel would be good to blog about, throughout the day, I write them down before I forget.  Mark Batterson in his new book Primal calls this idea stewardship.  Then, when I sit down to blog, I don't need to "feel" the creativity, because I literally have several dozen blog ideas that I've already gotten over the past few weeks and months waiting to be published.  Typically, I've written enough of a note down to quickly recall what I was feeling during the moment of inspiration, and am able to take it from there.

Many charities and corporations want to know the same thing about their social media.  Posting statuses on twitter and facebook seems like a huge task.  How can they possibly keep up.  It works the same way.  I either "favorite" tweets or write them down under a separate note section.  Then, you can add a monthly alarm to your calendar to remind yourself only once a month to go on to Hootsuite or a similar service and schedule your recorded list of potential tweets from your notes.  Easy as pie.

The same could be said for organizations connecting with individuals as potential customers or donors.  Collecting their contact information to stay in touch is vital.  Make a note of it and have a system for collecting, organizing and storing their information when the opportunity presents itself, or risk losing them.

Preachers want to know how to stay up to date with fresh and relevant sermon material.  It pretty much works the same way.  Personally, I have signed up for several dozen free, weekly emails containing sermon illustrations from various online resourcing ministries.  When these come in my inbox, I briefly review them and save any illustrations I think I can use later by clipping or re-emailing just the illustration to myself and putting it into it's own inbox.  For illustrations I find outside the worldwide web, I collect these and organize them into topics in a file storing system I've created.  This can work the same way with messages the Lord lays on our heart.  Write them down and keep them organized for the appropriate moments.

The same could be said for so many other industries.  ie - Musicians should record songs as they come, not depend only on specific songwriting sessions.  

Bottom line is that we don't need to wait for illusive moments of inspiration if we make simple habits of writing it down when we have it.