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Sharing what I know about type-based illustration while helping creatives do their best work

Save Your Ideas Even The Bad Ones

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Do you ever write something down and delete it?

Or think of a crazy idea, but never save the idea or store it in a notepad? 

Start saving all your ideas, even the bad ones. 

Saving your ideas will allow you to recognise the good from the great ideas.

In the moment an idea may seem “meh” but hold onto to it. You may one day find yourself browsing old notes and come across ideas from the past which at the time was crappy, but could be put to good use.

Write Your Ideas Down

An idea is no good sitting in your head because the chances are you will forget the idea later on.

I know some may think “I”m able to remember my ideas!” It could be my memory is just poor but I use to forget what blog topics I planned to write. Now that I keep a list, blog topics are ready to go!

The purpose of saving your ideas is to open your net so that your options are open. You’re only able to get to the great ideas by releasing all the bad ideas out of your brain.

When you need something to be inspired from, having your “idea notebook” is one way to get out of a rut.

When working digitally, it’s definitely a good idea (ha) to organise your files into folders with easy to find file names, but in instances when you’re away from the laptop or pc, a notebook is super handy. 

Writing down your ideas will get you to the gold that’s hiding behind the bad ideas. 

Make Idea Jotting A Habit  

I’ve made a habit of writing down everything that I would like to do. When I begin a new project, writing down everything I’m thinking about allows my mind to warm up. I jot everything down in a tiny A6 notebook that sits next to my bedside table. I aim to avoid letting an idea pass.

I stole this idea from Austin Kleon who recommends having a “swipe file” in which you store bits of information, thoughts and discoveries—essentially “stealing” ideas as he describes and having a place to keep your loot. 

Thoughts and ideas are no good sitting in your head. You need to let them roast to really find out if they could be meaningful. That's why having ideas stored in a notebook is the way to go. 

We’ve probably heard great ideas appear in the shower, or on walks or while driving. For the most part an artist doesn’t sketch out the perfect drawing the first time, nor does a musician write the perfect lyrics the first time. 

We’re always starting with things that are not quite there, that is raw and incomplete. 

Ideas go through editing. Your creative process is a result of iteration after iteration—working an idea over and over again, then knowing when the idea is an utter fail or a complete win. 

This is a piece of the creative process. Get your creative gears running by dumping everything that you’re thinking about onto the page. And yes even the ideas that seem tremendously insane—save it!  

There’s No Such Thing As Delete

Don’t even think about deleting, just save your ideas. No backspace, no eraser. Save your thoughts. The raw stuff is ugly, but the journey isn’t always a beautiful sunset scenario. 

Let the imperfect ideas, lead you to great ideas.

Not all your ideas will come into fruition. If the first idea fails, you then need to reset and get back into thinking mode.

How easy will it be for your process to look at the notes you made during ideation? You’ll save a lot of time—and brain power. 

Save bad ideas, save bad sketches, save bad designs. 

You need to document over create as Gary Vaynerchuck says. 

You will never get to the great ideas if you don’t get rid of the bad ones first. But save them! 

After taking a break from writing over the Summer, my brain was filled with plentiful ideas because a less overwhelmed mind is able to make more creative connections. 

And you know what, this topic was a result of writing down a bad idea.

Three Actions You Can Take Right Now

  • Define how you will store your ideas. This could be a traditional notebook, digital document or post-it notes on your wall. 
  • Pushing for the “best” idea usually never arrives by force. Be prepared to write down your ideas when you find yourself daydreaming or doing simple tasks. 
  • Next time you’re brainstorming, aim to write or sketch all ideas and yes, even the bad ones. 
 

 

Hey I appreciate you as always for reading and I do hope you takeaway at least one valuable piece from today’s post. Remember, while it is great to read, taking action is the real gold. 

Say hi on Twitter, would love to hear about your creative pursuits!