This post on how to organize your writing ideas was inspired by Arc from Staples. I received a complimentary Arc Customizable Notebook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Every year, I promise myself I’m going to get more organized with my writing ideas. The plan is always to have enough ideas for at least three months worth of posts. Every year, I’m really good at it for about ten minutes. Then I forget to stay organized and find myself scrambling to come up with post topics at the last minute. This year, I’m really making a conscious effort to stick to my goal.
After much reflection, I finally figured out my problem: I’m too tied to my computer. I don’t really have an issue with coming up with ideas, just remembering what they were later on. See, I come up with ideas in the shower, waiting for my son at the bus stop, sitting in a doctor’s office…pretty much everywhere. Not just in front of my computer. In past years, I created a spreadsheet so I could plug my ideas into them. I was totally organized about this part at least, but again, only when I was in front of the computer. Since at least 75% of my ideas come up in other places, I needed a better solution.
How to Organize Your Writing Ideas in a Way You’ll Actually REMEMBER Them!
It’s not enough to just make a fancy spreadsheet and call it a win. You need a way of remembering those ideas that you come up with when you’re out and about. Here are a few of ways that may work for you.
- Keep a voice recorder on you at all times. Some people are great with voicing their ideas. If you’re one of them, keep a voice recorder on you everywhere you go. Even the bathroom! I think most fancy phones have an app for that. I wouldn’t know, I have a lower than average intelligence phone. I need to write my ideas down to make sense of them, so alas, this option doesn’t really work well for me.
- Tell a trusted friend. Telling someone you trust (read: someone who won’t steal your idea) what you want to write about not only gives you a backup person in case you forget, it helps you commit it to memory better. I tell Sal a lot of my ideas when he’s around. He actually pays pretty good attention to me, even when I don’t think he’s listening. Later, I’ll say something like “wasn’t I going to write a post about something or other?” and he reminds me of my ideas.
- Keep scrap paper everywhere. Stuffing paper into your purse, pockets, glove box and so on ensures that you always have it on hand to write down your ideas. Just don’t accidentally throw it out! While this method seems a little disorganized, it’s actually pretty useful for people who forget to bring other methods of recording their ideas. If you’re not really one to remember to take a notebook with you everywhere, it’s better than nothing!
- Use your smart phone. If you have a smart phone (remember, I don’t), there are tons of apps out there to help you organize ideas. I do have a tablet that I use to keep track of some ideas. I like OneNote from Microsoft. Evernote is supposed to be great too. I think there are others, but I haven’t tried all of them. If you have a suggestion to add, let me know.
- Get a rockin’ binder to keep track of ideas. This is the one that works best for me. I love filling blank pages. I’m also more likely to use something if it’s nice to look at. The Arc customizable notebook system is perfect for tracking your writing ideas. I plan content for Pretty Opinionated, OurFamilyWorld and My Kids Guide. That’s three totally different sites for which I need to come up with ideas. My Arc has five sections, so I have two left over for random ideas and resources.
About the Arc Customizable Notebook
The Arc Customizable Notebook is gorgeous to look at as well as easy to use. Remember, when you actually LIKE looking at your work tools, you’re more likely to use them. I have the Quilted Arc notebook system in pretty pink. When it arrived, I thought long and hard about how I was going to use it. It’s just too pretty to not have a grand purpose! I already have a smaller Arc Organizer that I use for storing important blogging contacts. Since that’s also pink, I figure using this one as my writing inspiration notebook was a great idea.
I can take the Arc with me just about anywhere. It’s big, so I’m not likely to lose it, yet it’s sturdy so it’s easy to write on when I’m sitting in a doctor’s office or waiting in my car for the bus to come. Later, when I need ideas, I can flip through the pages and transfer writing ideas to my spreadsheet or editorial calender for any given month.
Features of the Arc include:
- Patent Leather cover
- Heavyweight paper
- 60 narrow-ruled sheets that you can reposition however you want
- Pen holder so you don’t lose your fancy pen
- Interior pocket with business card slots
Speaking of the pen holder, I recommend getting yourself a great pen to write with. Again, if it’s a joy to write, you’ll want to do it more often! I received the AvantPro pen along with my Arc notebook. It’s a retractable gel pen that writes like a dream. The only thing you need to watch is smudging when you write on a glossy surface, like the tabs of your Arc. Other than that, it’s perfect!
How do you organize your writing ideas? What method works best for you?