Bottom Line — Ideas come to my head randomly. If I don’t jot them down, I forget them. I use a voice recorder app to collect them and transcribe them later. That’s how I generate creative ideas and reduce the stress of having to remember a lot.
Post updated in 2020: I’ve used a voice recorder since 2010 and it’s still an essential tool I use today for remembering ideas.
Good ideas come when you’re not sitting at the table with a pen in your hand.
I quickly realized that carrying a pencil and a piece of paper with me at all times is inconvenient. When the world is quiet, that’s when creative ideas appear.
I quickly realized that if I don’t jot a new idea down, I won’t remember it tomorrow.
A loss of one creative idea is not a big deal.
Several months and years worth of forgotten ideas are missed opportunities.
I solve the problem by using a voice recorder to jot down any idea that seems interesting at the moment.
Reducing Writer’s block
Writer’s block is when you sit down to write but end up staring at your computer screen without knowing what to type.
The trick here is to come to a writing session ready with an idea beforehand. Generate them BEFORE you sit down. Generate them and jot them down when they randomly pop into your head during the day.
When I sit down to write, I open up a list of writing topics I’ve previously transcribed from my voice recorder. I’ll pick that topic that draws me in the most on the day I write.
I credit sleeping well at night to keeping reminders and schedules out of my head.
If something I should remember randomly comes up, I’ll voice record it and later on, I’ll add it to my Google Calendar.
I don’t have to constantly remind myself to remember meetings or events because they are written down.
I use google docs and dropbox paper to transcribe ideas from the voice recorder to a document. You’ll be surprised how the document adds up in pages over time. For example, over a few years, I’ve collected over 70 pages of ideas.
Are they all good? No. They don’t have to be. There’s no pressure to act on any of them. But they are there for me to review every few weeks and occasionally I’ll act on one or two.
Voice recording app
I used to carry a dedicated Zoom H1 voice recorder. Today, I use the HI-Q Mp3 voice recorder app on my phone. I’m sure Apple has one too.
I’m not meticulous about transcribing recording to google docs every day. I usually transcribe my recordings once a week or every other week. I don’t want it to become a chore.