How often do you get great writing ideas? And how often do these ideas seem to come at the most inopportune times. You don’t want to stop your muse from coming up with them, but you need a way to note them down and track them.
I get them all the time! In fact, I often get more than I can handle and share ideas with friends so they can write something instead. Brainstorming with friends and giving them fresh ideas is fun. But there are others that I like to keep for myself in the future.
Now, how do you track your great ideas? You do track them, right?
Having a tracking system for your writing ideas is so important, whether you just have one blog or you write for a multitude of places. You need to note the idea down as soon as you get it (otherwise you’ll forget!), track where it will go, when it is posted and whether you can create a follow-up for it – and then note that idea.
So, how do you keep track of all your great ideas? Here are my tips:
Have a Notebook and Pen (Or Use Technology)
Before the invention of the smart phone, I would carry a notebook and pen everywhere. I had to have a big handbag for my A5 notebook and even took it to work with me so I could make notes as and when they came to me. I still use a notebook a lot of the time for quick notes, but I’ve also moved onto technology.
At one time I used Evernote, but I’ve scrapped that for Trello more recently. I’ve also tried Asana in the past, but not had the greatest success with that. Trello is where it’s at right now.
With Trello, I can sync between computer and phone. No internet connection? No problem with the phone. The ideas will sync later, but I can still create and store when I think of something.
When I want to create a full post while I’m out, I’ll use Google Docs. That is accessed without the internet and I can write and store. Once I get an internet connection I can sync and access through the computer.
Deciding Where to Post Them
Now it’s the fun part of tracking where they will go. This is something that I only do from the computer or my phone. I used to track via spreadsheet, but now Trello offers me a space for my workflow. I have a board specifically for writing ideas, with lists for each of my websites and clients. I’ll create a card per idea and use the filters to determine whether it’s just an idea, written, published, or scrapped.
I then have boards for the individual sites. Once I’ve published a piece, the card will be moved to those individual boards. I can access them easier for sharing on social media.
Track Your Great Ideas When You Write Them
Once you use your idea, you need to scratch it from your notepad and mark it on your spreadsheet. This stops you from using it again in the future accidentally. I’ve made that mistake before because I didn’t do this!
I make a note of when something is written and sent for the editors and then make a note when it is published. If something isn’t published and is sent for changes or the editor has decided not to use it, I don’t want it disappearing – I have to find a new home for it. I need to track that this has happened to find the log of articles or blog posts that no longer have a home.
It’s really important to track once it is published! You don’t want to use it on another site forgetting that it was published a few months ago! Not only will you lose credibility but it could cause legal problems.
So, how do you track your great writing ideas? I don’t like complex systems (don’t see the need for them). Please note this isn’t for tracking how well the posts do! This is just for tracking my great ideas from coming up with them to getting them out there!
Need help setting up a system that works for you? Struggling to come up with writing ideas? I love working with my students on brainstorming and idea tips. Check out how you can become one of my writing students to get help when you most need it.
Note: This piece was originally published on July 2, 2013. It has been updated on Nov 9, 2017.