September 14

“I love inventing names, but I also collect unusual names, so that I can look through my notebook and choose one that suits a new character.” —J. K. Rowling

It’s my belief that, as the human race, we have likely cured cancer several times over, but some scientist forgot his pen and didn’t write the solution down. Has that ever happened to you? You come up with an idea that is just amazing, and you think “I could never forget that!”, then ten minutes later you’re thinking “What was the idea?!?”

It used to happen to me all the time, but then I found a solution: I write everything down. I take notes about the most mundane things that cross my mind. Sparks of intuition that have no bearing on what I’m working on are scattered throughout my notebooks. Little hunches I have, or ideas that don’t seem all that valuable are there as well. I’ve learned that by writing everything down, then routinely reviewing my notes, I often realize that ideas I had weeks ago are relevant to what I’m working on now.

Keep a notebook with your hunches, intuitions, ideas, and sparks. Then, take just a few minutes each day to flip through it and see if any dots are connected.

Ideas that you think are irrelevant now might be perfect for next week’s problem. Write them down, then review them later.

Question:  Where will you keep your ideas and sparks of insight, and when will you review them? 

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