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I have a love-hate relationship with ideas. They always pop up at random times, sparked by something I’m experiencing, and are usually completely unrelated to anything that’s going on. Sometimes they’re great – like an interesting story idea or character concept. Sometimes they’re not so great – like when I had the idea to draw eyebrows on my parent’s golden retriever (never mind, that was still pretty great.)

What’s important is not what the ideas are, how they came about, or if you’ll ever act on them, but what you do with them when they appear. Oftentimes I was completely unprepared and the ideas disappeared as quickly as they came; however, lately I’ve decided to do a better job of keeping track of the ideas that come my way.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been carrying a leather notebook case to help keep my life organized. The case contains three notebooks, each with a specific purpose. The first is a Word. Notebook which I use for my daily to-do lists. The second is a Furrow Book which I use for sketching, general notes, and fleshing out plans or ideas. The third is a lined Field Notes which is used to store and organize ideas when they appear.

The Word. Notebook is used as a daily to-do list and is another incentive to always have the notebooks on me and at the ready.

The Furrow Books are my all-purpose notebooks. Sketches, longer notes, random lists, math. Anything that I need a blank page for or just doesn’t fit with the use of the other two notebooks.

I use a lined Field Notes notebook to record my ideas. The first page is used as a table of contents, then each idea receives a full-spread so that I have space to work out details of the ideas.

While the Word. Notebook has it’s specific linear purpose, the Furrow Book is more of an all-purpose notebook and is used for just about everything. I keep the Field Notes much more organized by numbering each page, using the first as a table of contents, then giving each idea a full spread of two pages so I have plenty of space to further develop or elaborate on different concepts. After writing the idea down, I’ll go make a note go it in the table of contents. Sometimes I’ll jump over to the Furrow Book to sketch out different things about any given idea (such as gadgets, buildings, or characters.) After sketching, I’ll either tear out the page and store it with the idea in the Field Notes, or reference to it on idea’s page. When I want to grab an idea for a project, I’ll check out the TOC, then head to the idea’s page for more details.

The system I use might not work for everyone (or anyone else for that matter,) but it’s been working pretty well for me thus far. I rest easier knowing that I won’t lose great ideas when they pop up, and it’s part of an organized system so I can always find it again later.

Questions of the day: Do you have a system for keeping organized or storing ideas? If so, what is it?

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