How Do You Dissipate Your Creative Energy? Part 2

On Monday, we talked about what we do when we’re bombarded, out of the blue, with a storm of creative ideas. Today we’re going to think about what we can do to make the most of those storms.

Once you’ve figured out how you react, try to make a plan. Keep a notebook nearby or some index cards in your pocket. Use the voice recorder on your phone. If idea storms are prompted by things you see, take photos and give them labels that remind you where you want to go with them. I’ve found sticky notes to be really helpful: I jot down a couple words on a sticky note and pin it (because the stickiness isn’t going to last, and then I’m going to have nothing but a tide of no-longer-sticky notes washing up under the desk) on each garment. If they’re ideas for writing, that’s easier: I have various idea-capturing devices everywhere. I print out calendar pages for six months at a time, a set for each thing I do–articles, podcasts, blog posts–and I can write ideas on the relevant date. If it’s for a longer project, it goes in various computer files. If sitting down at the computer during a storm of ideas isn’t possible, there are notepads and stacks of index cards all over the house.

Here are some other ideas that you might be able to tweak to work for you:

~~tape/tack large sheets of kraft paper or butcher paper on the wall, the back of the door, the wall of a seldom-used shower or bathtub. The tile walls of the bathtub in the cats’ bathroom are often covered with taped-up sheets of newsprint.

~~paint a wall with chalkboard paint and keep a bucket of chalk handy. It’s much easier to capture ideas when you don’t have to hunt for something to sketch with, and it’s often easier to capture them large, on a wall, where you can stand up and move around while you’re making notes or sketching.

~~get familiar with the voice recorder or note app on your phone and make a file just for ideas. My iPhone syncs with the iMac, so my notes are immediately available wherever I am.

~~who says you can’t write on your hand? You’re not in school any more, and if making notes on your hands is the best way to capture an idea, do it.

~~a bulletin board is an excellent way to get everything right there in front of you. I have them all over the house, with pushpins already stuck in waiting for me. I pin up notes, images, scraps of labels, bits of fabric or floss. You can buy tiny plastic bags in the jewelry section of the craft store and put in beads or bits of stuff you find when you’re walking–whatever will remind you of the idea. You can write on the bags with a Sharpie if you want to make notes.

~~sometimes, if all else fails, you can tell whoever’s nearby. I have a lousy memory, and if I think of something, one of those, “Ooooh, oooooh, ooooooh!” ideas while, for instance, I’m out dancing with my husband, I’ll tell him. Sometimes he doesn’t remember, either, but sometimes he does. It may not mean anything to him that I told him, “Remind me to make a snake out of couched t-shirt fabric,” but if he remembers just that much, it may be all I need. [Note to self: sew pockets for index cards onto dancing skirts.]


So take some time, make some plans. Figure out what’s going to work for you so that you can capture as many ideas as possible and so that you don’t find yourself so overwhelmed that the only thing you can think of to do is escape to the wilds of Facebook and Twitter.

Creative is a VerbFor an excellent book on creativity, check out Creative is a Verb: If You’re Alive, You’re Creative, by Patti Digh.




Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.



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