If you talk to any prolific writer or successful entrepreneur, you will find they make it a point to capture their ideas.
An Audience of One
In your lifetime, you will likely have thousands of ideas. As I wrote in An Audience of One “none of us have a shortage of ideas, we just lack the discipline to capture them.
Some of your ideas will be terrible. Some of them will be amazing. As Seth Godin has said, the key to having lots of good ideas is to have lots of bad ones. But if you lack the discipline to capture them, you’ll never be able to capitalize on the great ones.
Ideas Don’t Occur on a Fixed Schedule
We don’t always have ideas at convenient times or in convenient places. We have them when we’re driving, in the shower, or just waking up. As much as we’d love to sit down at our desk or in a meeting at some predetermined time and brainstorm, our best ideas are on their own schedule. The only way around this is to capture our ideas.
Ideas Need Time to Bake
Sometimes people resist writing down their ideas because they are not fully formed.
What they don’t realize is that ideas need time to bake. As a writer, I keep a running list of ideas for things to write about. As you’ll see from the screenshot below, sometimes I have nothing more than a sentence or title. It might be days or sometimes even weeks before that idea starts to take shape during my writing session.
But this doesn’t only apply to writing. Maybe you have a half-baked idea for an app or new service of some sort. Instead of waiting, create a landing page. Make what author Peter Sims calls Little Bets. This allows you to gather feedback and start making immediate progress, even if your idea isn’t fully formed.
Increased Volume of Ideas Leads to Increased Quality
When people ask me to describe my writing process, I’ve jokingly said “90 percent of it is shit. I’m not a good writer. I just write a lot. Some of it ends up being good.” It turns out that I’m not alone. In his book Originals, Adam Grant’s research showed that people who produced a high volume of ideas or creative output ended up producing higher quality work.
You could attempt to write the great American novel in one sitting. Or you could write a shitty first draft every day for the next year. Paradoxically, the latter is more likely to lead to the former.
With a high volume of ideas you’re able to leverage the profound power of consistency, and the compound interest of habits. When it comes to ideas, focus on quantity and quality will be an eventual byproduct.