Updated: 24 January 2017. I’ve evolved my workflow and made some changes to the tools I use.
I’ve run out of ideas for blogs many times. In fact, I’ve abandoned whole sites because I’ve dried up.
That’s OK if it’s a hobby, but what if the site is your livelihood? Especially in these days when content is ever more important?
You must be a master of having ideas for writing.
How to maintain a constant flow of ideas
It’s not really the flow of ideas that’s the problem. We all have ideas all the time. The knack is to capture them before they disappear, and have them available when you want to start writing.
If you’ve ever read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done (GTD), you’ll be familiar with the idea of Ubiquitous Capture.
Briefly, the idea is that you put in place ways to save ideas as you have them, and a way of gathering them all together to make use of them.
How do I capture ideas? Either from handwritten notes, digital notes, e-mail, RSS feeds or the Internet.
- Three Moleskine notebooks – a large black one that lives in my business bag for client meetings, a large red one that lives on my desk and a small black one that sometimes goes in my pocket and sometimes in my smaller bag. They’re all unlined, so I can scribble and mess about with notes and ideas more freely
- Feedly for keeping track of RSS feeds
- Pocket for dumping pieces I want to read later or re-read. Anything I think will be useful then gets transferred into Evernote, or directly into Trello if I want to start working on it almost immediately
- Google Chrome browser with Pocket, Evernote and Trello extensions – I have the same set-up on my iMac and my Chromebook
- Drafts – a fantastic iOS app that enables you to add notes or longer pieces (drafts – geddit?) to all sorts of other apps and services, including Evernote.
It all goes into Evernote and Trello
Information from everything above – including the Moleskines – can be easily transferred into Evernote. Mostly by just clicking on a button, or doing a right mouse click. Depending on the app, I can usually just clip the interesting material into Evernote.
In the case of the notebooks, I have two choices – type the idea in, or photograph it on my iPhone and add the image (or PDF) to an Evernote note.
Once in Evernote, I attach a tag so I can find all my relevant ideas easily. Then, when I’m looking for the next topics to add to my schedule, I may even merge those that are related. Finally I add the topic to a Trello board.
How do you capture and develop ideas?
Thanks to Rob Boudon for making his image available.