Why You Need an Ideas Notebook

Here’s the scenario.

You’re a writer, say. You put words on paper and put those papers into the hands of people who read them. Or maybe you put words on screens and let Twitter do your billing: I PUT A WORD HERE. COME READ IT.

Whatever your method (paper, pen, computer), or your strategy for garnering readership (bullhorns, Twitter), you surely require one simple thing, day in and day out.

That thing?


All people — not just writers, but innovators, business people and mind benders require ideas to fuel their fire. Turns out, we have lots of them. Every single day. But the challenge, our challenge, is capturing those ideas.

When you have an idea in the shower, do you write it down? No. When you have an idea while tossing and turning at night, do you write that down? Not likely. When you have an idea while in a subway, do you type it into your iphone? Sometimes.

The problem, it seems, is not the finding of ideas, but the documenting of them.

So get a notebook. A tiny one. Not your regular hefty journal. Not your iphone. A real notebook you can touch and look at and think: THIS IS FOR MY GREAT-BAD-UGLY IDEAS. ALL OF THEM.

I like this little thin one from Moleskine.

Carry it around. Use it just for ideas.

Do it.

Do you have one? Does it work for you?

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26 thoughts on “Why You Need an Ideas Notebook

  1. I carry 3×5 cards. I have a note on my desk as a reminder, “your head is place for having ideas, not for storing them”.

  2. Carried a little black notebook around forever. I have boxes of 5×8 yellow notepads, but never miss an idea or note. It was always within grabbing distance. The notebook still rides along in my briefcase because it deserves that level or respect, and I prefer to write on paper. But Google Keep has replaced it. And I think there will be no going back. On my On my Note 3, or my computer, I can speak in my idea, make a list, save a web link, or paste in someone’s contact info. And it’s searchable.

  3. Felt like commenting on this article coz’ recently I have started to jot-down my ideas in a small note book. This idea book is similar to To Do List or the ideas that needs to done.

  4. I can’t imagine not having a journal or notebook with me – I use one book to hold ideas, short story ideas, TO-DO, any check lists, packing lists, anything that needs to be recorded. Its crucial to have one when walking around outside, on the road, and as another reader said, next to the bed. I have to get my glasses out to use my iPhone – so the notebook is always easier. Despite our electronic age, I still love notebooks and writing instruments and the way it feels to use a medium-point pen with dark purple (periwinkle?) or black ink to a page.

  5. I am a lister. I LOVE making checklists and crossing things off. I also love jotting down ideas, since most of them come to me when I’m walking home from work or about to fall asleep. Often, however, good ideas get lost in abandoned ‘to do’ lists. An idea notebook solves that. And I’m totally doing this. Thanks!!

  6. I have several notebooks for my ideas. The problem is, I carry one around with me for awhile and then lay it down somewhere & walk away from it. Sometimes I find them years later, sometimes never. Now I just use the notepad on my phone. I’m pretty good about keeping track of the phone. :-p The downside of that electronic notepad is I can’t doodle or draw diagrams or anything like that. I bet there’s an app for that but I haven’t found it yet. (Not that I’ve LOOKED for it yet …. LOL.)

    • Peg, that’s why I stick to the old fashioned pen and paper. I like the act of taking time out to write things down. I even write before I type important documents. Some people say that’s just wasting time but it’s part of my ritual that helps my thinking. I feel so uncomfortable typing something up from scratch on Word for example

      • Ritual is definitely an important part of the process. I do outlining on paper but not too much real writing.

  7. I have a number of notebooks I use. One for my business ideas and thoughts (during times I’m focusing on this aspect), one for journaling at the end of each day. one for documenting key conversations I have on the phone (kept by my landline) and finally as you suggest, one for capturing those AHA moments that would just disappear without trace if not recorded

    • The book for the key conversations strikes me as an interesting choice. Do you go back and reread frequently? That’s a really interesting idea and I wonder how it would help to have that one separate than a regular “business ideas” one, say.

      • The key conversations book is literally about answering a call, for example and just takin g anote of what was discussed, so I can capture that conversation in the moment. I re-read those notes every morning as I can’t guarantee I remember everything from the day previous. Sometimes its just a little thing like my partner calling to make sure my daughter finishes some important school worl. Not great in the bigger scheme of things but important/key to me. My business ideas notebook is literally a brain dump of every thought I have about my business and the ideas for it as they come into my head. A great way to capture key thinking time

  8. I use the WordPress app on my phone. Anytime I think of an idea or get inspired, I save the idea as a draft. I have over 400 saved drafts plus others written in my blogging binder from before I started this system. Some way to various your ideas is a must. You will never have writer’s block!


  9. This is so true. I use Evernote and cannot imagine not logging ideas. They seem to marinate and get better with age until I finally write them up. And then there are those 20-30% that mean absolutely nothing when I go back.

  10. Just bought this same moleskine notebook last week! It’s the perfect size for jotting down quotes, blog themes, creative ideas. Highly recommend!