Let me tell you a little story. More than 30 years ago I went to the USA and participated in the cultural and educational program Up With People. With more than 120 young adults from 17 nations, I was able to spend a year in more than 90 cities in North America and Oceania where I was able to experience host families of different attitudes and incomes, participated in social projects everywhere and almost always took part on stage in a music show for the residents of these cities
I am sure you can imagine that this year was filled with special memories, diverse impressions and experiences that still have their impact on my life today.
At the very beginning of the so-called “staging”, when we all not only rehearsed the music show in six weeks, but we were also prepared for that special journey. One morning there was a lecture by an elderly man, Morris Martin. With very insistent and impressive words he pointed out to us youngsters to write down and record everything that is important to us. I managed to keep a diary for a while, but with a mixture of convenience and the youthful conviction that I could remember everything after all, the diary was filled less and less and at some point it was banished completely into the suitcase.
Why am I telling this story? Well, when you are engaged in generating and finding ideas, you become very aware of how important it is to write down ideas and thoughts that you yourself may consider ingenious or even absurd or unnecessary, because suddenly the inspiration is gone and often enough irretrievably lost between two synapses.
Imagine that you would like to redecorate your living room. In the beginning, you observe the room and think about the options and maybe even move furniture around. But somehow it does not fit. You measure, even try out furnishing software, ask friends, interior designers and so on. But they can’t come up with the perfect solution. But at some point while walking in the woods, you are hit by a flash of inspiration. A piece of furniture has to be moved to another room, the shelf belongs to the opposite side, a picture has to be higher… Before your mental eye everything fits and very often it fits in reality without having the measurements in your head.
There is a simple explanation for that: During the walk you are not looking for the solution but you let your thoughts wander. The brain can arrange its own thinking power and think through different options freely and uncensored and suddenly it says “eureka”, then the pieces of the puzzle fit together. But be careful, if you don’t somehow hold on to these thoughts now, this fragile structure can soon disappear into the synapses again. So you should write it down, somehow, anywhere: on the back of a handkerchief, using the note function of your smartphone, as a line drawing in the forest floor, or as a WhatsApp audio message to yourself. No matter what, the main thing is that you capture these thoughts for later use.
After all, an idea is only an idea when it’s spoken out or written down!
And it proves what Mr. Martin told me over 30 years ago: Write everything down, because it may be important at some point. Thank you, Mr. Martin.
Think for yourself and “Write it down”
P.S.: I have finally gotten into the habit of writing everything down somewhere, whether as digital notes, on the back of notepads or as an email to myself. And I regularly find myself consulting these notes again. Only when I´m running, where I often have valuable ideas, I sometimes miss out writing them down, since I do not have my smartphone with me all the times. But there is still time for improvement.