I just got back from a four day girls weekend in Sydney. Having lived in Sydney for ten years, it’s always wonderful to go back. It’s like reconnecting with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages.
Having time away from my home office was also divine.
Having worked more weekends in a row lately than I can remember, it was great to have a long weekend off.
What surprised me on this trip though was how I constantly thought about work.
Let me explain.
I’ve always been good at disconnecting from life in the office. Once I walk through the front doors, I’m on my own time.
I’m not one of those people who needs a lot of time to ‘wind down’ when she goes on holiday. I don’t spend the first week of my month off thinking about work. I have had the odd last-minute panic about work but thankfully they are rare.
I walk out of the office and I’m in holiday mode. At least that was when I was working for someone else.
Working for myself, I find it a very different story.
I found myself walking around Sydney constantly thinking of writing ideas. Every restaurant I went to was a possible review, I thought of angles for travel stories, and new markets I could explore.
Everywhere I looked I thought about things I could write about.
Not being much of a shopper, while my girlfriend tried on clothes, I found myself daydreaming and wandering out of the store to write down ideas, questions and anything else that popped into my head.
I have learned that some of the ideas I once considered ‘useless’ can be the seed for a story whether it be a blog post, travel story or even a short fiction piece in some cases.
The great part is that this ideas generation exercise did not feel like work.
In Sydney over the weekend, I felt relaxed. I felt happy.
I know from experience how work and life can be hard to separate, particularly when you work from home.
While I know I need to work on this whole work-life balance thing, what I’m most thrilled about is being more in the headspace of a writer and content creator.
Here are some thoughts on capturing your writing ideas.
1. Take a notebook with you everywhere. I personally prefer a notebook with a solid spine over one with a spiral binder where pages can be ripped out. Once you start ripping out pages, you risk losing your ideas. If you prefer something more high tech, I’m sure a mobile or blackberry could also be used.
2. Write things down! Having the notebook is useless if you never use it.
Think of it as brainstorming, it doesn’t necessarily have to make a great deal of sense at first. One small obscure thought or angle can be turned into a writing project.
Don’t censor yourself when you are taking notes. On the flipside, if your thoughts are very clear on what your story may be about and what the market is – makes your notes as concise as possible.
3. Avoid using small pieces of paper for capturing your ideas, they can easily get lost. So no post-it notes.
4. Remember that you can turn an idea into a lot of different stories and blog posts. Don’t think an idea is simply one story for one market. Keep an open mind when you are taking your notes.
5. Don’t assume you will remember your idea and write it down later. I’ve made that mistake many times in the past. How could I possibly forget this great idea you think to yourself? Believe me, you can and you most likely will, if you don’t record your thoughts quickly.
6. Find a way to systematically organize your story ideas. I’m still working on this one myself, though I have realized how important this step is. At the moment I have an A4 hardcover book that I write down all of my ideas in. I also have a smaller A5 book I take in my handbag.
7. Whatever your method of capturing ideas make sure you go back later and utilize them.
Writing down your ideas is not going to help if you do not review them. Take your ideas and formulate as many of them as appropriate into viable work projects.
8. Take photos relating to your notes. If you decide to follow up with a story later, then you have the photos that you need. Also where possible collect business cards and website addresses.
As I mentioned I’ve been working weekends for a while now. Getting out of the house, in this case to another state, was a great way of getting the creative juices flowing.
As a content creator, you are always on the lookout for ideas and inspiration. If you get into a creative headspace and adopt a proactive mindset then you’re on the right path.
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