Notes For Creators

cross fit for the creative soul

To catch an idea

This post was inspired more than a decade ago by David Gordon. Here’s how it went down:

It started out innocently enough. We were on vacation in Key West — me, Ann, David and Sue Gordon — and we were rolling around the island on rented bicycles. As we looped through the day we lazed our way into a boutique, chattering away as we so love to do G-Force style.

It’s not cool to admit this to the public, sure, but I’m boldly confessing it here: we’ve named our little two-couple group — you have to if both your last names start with G, it’s almost mandatory. (G-Spot lost out. If we’d been a nightclub, then maybe.)

I can no longer recall what the conversation was about that afternoon, but the ramifications have been life altering. Something spurred a thought that needed to be recorded, and I muttered along these lines: “Aw [insert mundane profanity here], if only I had something to write this down to remind me later.”

Sue immediately chirped out in the most birdsong-y way: “If I know my Davey (tweet tweet), he’s got what you need in his pocket.”

And yes, she meant it both ways. That’s Sue, the funny one. We’re there to adore her — and laugh.

And . . . he did. Have what I needed. Even while rolling around Key West in his shorts. Turns out he always carried — and still does — pen and paper to record ideas, wherever they may strike.

I was hooked by his genius! What simplicity. Always there meant always being able to snatch a thought from the vapors and firmly plant it into some kind of quasi-permanence.
 
From that day forward I too carried pen and paper in pocket, no matter where I went.

Idea catchment device

Alex Bogusky (part of the creative freight train of Crispin Porter + Bogusky) treats ideas as if they are as easy to obtain as water. He gives them away freely — to train his brain to flow ideas out like tap water. He suggests that if you hoard ideas you are training your brain that ideas are difficult to come by, and your brain will act accordingly.

The secret to free-flowing ideas is a means of catchment. If you have pen and paper always handy in some fashion, then ideas take you seriously and multiply.

Ideas are like butterflies. Butterflies need love! Butterflies need attention. Butterflies multiply if given a place to roost. (You can substitute bunnies for butterflies if that floats your boat . . . we all know how a little lovin’ helps bunnies multiply . . . like rabbits!)

If you prefer, instead of pen and paper, you can record your thoughts on your super-duper-smart phone or on your IPad. But I don’t trust anything that disappears. That takes some kind of iron discipline to make sure you dig back into the digital domain and retrieve your stream of notes. I’m a doer not a disciplinist. I’m a lover not a list retrievalist . . . .

Ahhh yes, once again I’ve meandered a bit too far off the trail.

The gist of it is this: Tools matter. You can’t be a carpenter without a hammer. You can’t be an idea person without an idea catcher.

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