Monday, March 08, 2021

Practical Strategies to Capture Thoughts and Ideas for Writers


Without thoughts and ideas writer's would be lost.  So how do you capture all of those ideas spinning around in your head?

Having the ability to arrange thoughts is a skill in itself.  

But thoughts aren't something solid and robust you can just grab a hold of, or catch with a net.

You need a simple system you can call on to put your ideas and stories into physical form, so that you can look at them when you need them, for your writing projects.

We're going to look at some straightforward techniques that are useful and practical, and will allow you to see your thoughts from a different viewpoint.

Functional Techniques

Generally the most practical ways are the best, so nothing can be clearer than turning your thoughts into the written word.

You'll be able to see your thoughts, and know which are the most important.

So let's get started.

Sticky Notes

Use one thought per sticky note, and make some space on your table, desk or empty wall.  Put every idea you can think of on individual notes.  Once your thoughts start flowing you can start grouping them together. 

Create a Mind Map

More and more people are using mind maps to get their points across.  They're simple to do because you start in the middle, and then encircle your main thought with related thoughts and ideas on the outside.

You could start on a piece of A4 by writing your main thought in the middle and work your way out.  As you go on you can add sub categories.

Index Cards

This process is similar to the sticky notes system.  All you need to do is write down one thought per index card.

You can organise them into the groups you want them in as you go along. 

Construct a List

Grab a pen and some paper, and begin writing down all of your thoughts randomly to begin with.  You can categorise them later on.

Formulate Your Own Pie Chart

If you've never seen a pie chart, the clue is in the name.  They look like a pie.  With each area representing a different colour and category.  

This technique requires a large piece of paper and pencil.  Make your circle in the middle of the page, and start writing your thoughts inside different areas of the pie.  Make the most important thoughts larger, and make your lesser thoughts smaller pieces of pie.

Imaginative Techniques

Try using your imaginative side to set free your thoughts from a new perspective.

Write Your Thoughts in Letter Form

Letter writing is a skill that is sadly slipping away in the digital age.  This is because you have to say what you need to say rationally and plainly.

All you need is a writing pad, pen and no distractions.  Start writing the letter the same you would if you were writing it to your best friend.  Remember this is a personal letter that won't actually be sent, but will be used as a tool to get your thoughts out into the open.  Because this letter is more of an exercise, there's no need to correct any typos or errors.

Create a Thought Collage

If your brain works better using visuals, this exercise is perfect for you.  

You may already have a collection of old papers and magazines you can use.  Or you could start googling images and printing them out.  

This time you're putting together the images into the groups that you feel match up with your thoughts.  Once you've finished arranging your images into groups you can start sticking them down, then you can examine your finished work.

Create Your Own Timeline or Calendar

You can get a much clearer perspective when you see your thoughts in the form of a timeline or calendar.  A large piece of paper will do, and a pen or pencil.  

You can use a yearly, monthly or weekly format to order your thoughts.

Turn Your Thoughts into Audio 

Smartphones are probably one of the easiest ways to put your thoughts into audio format, because most people own one.  It's an inexpensive way of recording your voice, and will save you a fortune on recording equipment. 

It may be a little strange to hear yourself talk, but it's also a quick way of putting your thoughts out there.  And you can listen back as many times as you like.

Step Out of Your Mind

Sometimes what you really need is to get out of the house and "out of your head," literally, instead of being stuck in the house or office with nothing but your thoughts for company.

This usually means you need to do something physical to step out of your mind.

Get Your Heart Pumping

Exercise is the best way to get your heart pumping, and walking is the easiest form, unless you prefer jogging or riding a bike.   You can do this for as long as you need.  Walk around your town, in the country or by the sea.

You're giving your mind time to pause and relax, and allowing your subconscious to process the information swimming around inside of your head.

Talk Things Out

If you're feeling really stuck, call on a family member or friend to talk to.  Someone that really knows you and can help you reflect on your thoughts.

Often all it takes is to talk things out and get things off your chest.  Maybe you just need things clarifying properly, or you want another person's perspective.

Relate a Story

Storytelling comes in many different forms, acting, sketching or drawing, audio narration or a puppet show.

Reflective Techniques

Your mind is a library of information just waiting to be opened, all you need to know is how to tap into it.

You can do this through a few methods that will essentially take you away from thinking, and help unlock your subconscious mind.  

Do a Monotonous Task

This could be anything from washing the dishes to ironing, or hoovering.  Your mind will start to sort out your thoughts ready for you to write down when you've finished doing the task.

Sit Somewhere Quiet

Put a little time to one side and sit quietly or lie down.  Allow your body to totally relax, and don't think about anything.

This can help clear away all of the cobwebs, and help organise your thoughts and ideas.

Let Your Thoughts Stew Overnight

Allow the power of good nights sleep to process the thoughts racing through your mind.  Clarity will come when you wake up the next morning. 

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Read more:

Find Your Writing Hero

How to Make Time to Write When You Have a Busy Life

How to Make 2000 Words a Day a Habit

62 Motivational Tips to Get You Writing

How Writers Can Vanquish Negativity

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