10 Reasons Every Writer Should Keep an Idea Box | Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer

How many times have I heard a (professional) writer tell me, “I really need an idea box?” Let me count the ways …

What is an idea box? Simply put: it’s a box you keep close to your favorite writing spot (for me, on my desk) where you stash all those great ideas scribbled on random pieces of paper. Personally, I carry a small notebook in my purse and jot down all kinds of phrases throughout the day.

Why do this?

Well, here are 10 reasons EVERY writer should keep an idea box:

This is MY idea box, from Barnes and Noble.

1. It forces you to observe (hey, otherwise you can’t fill the box with ideas).

2. It solidifies the title of “writer” in your blood.

3. It keeps you looking at the world from different perspectives.

4. It kills Writer’s Block upon an attack (stuck? Just shuffle through your idea box).

5. It prevents the, “Oh crud, what was that great idea I thought of last night? It was classic, and now it’s gone!”

6. It helps you become more creative.

7. It prevents boredom.

8. It makes you feel important when your friends “oooo” and “ahhhh” over it.

9. It diversifies your stories and makes them better.

10. IT’S FUN! (well, at least for us writers)

So tell me …

Do YOU keep an idea box? Why or why not? And if so, how has the idea box helped you grow as a writer?

via 10 Reasons Every Writer Should Keep an Idea Box | Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer.

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  1. I do it especially when people try to punch my morale and make me feel like a rather shitty writer and rubbish my thought process….i think i am at my best when low and frustrated!


  2. I think this is important – I have gone through two days on a weekend wanting to write a blog post, but not having an idea to write one! From that time, I always noted down the blog topics in a diary and refer to them whenever required. Now I have about 50 topics waiting to be written on 🙂

    Destination Infinity


  3. I have both a physical ideas box and a digital one (which I’ve now moved to the ‘cloud’). I haven’t opened either in years – that was, until yesterday when a chance conversation with another blogger prompted me to dig out all my old files and look back at the writer I used to be.

    Turns out, I was a better writer back then, presumably because I kept an ideas box.


  4. Oh yes I do; I’m never really “on the lookout” for ideas, but random ideas, snippets of a great dialogue, a cool topic I think is worth probing/exploring all come to me at all times of the day and night, in all sorts of different ways… so when my very generous muse knocks, I grab whatever is handy (napkin, post-it, keyboard, old envelope, Notes function on my phone, etc.), document the idea, and then file it (either physically or virtually, depending on the medium in which the idea was invited to stay). And then just as you said, when I want to write but “can’t think of anything to say”, I look at the ideas, and wow – looks like I have a lot I could say! 🙂


  5. It was a notebook I carried in my pocket, then another one, then another, but where did I put it? So now I have a drawer in my desk that’s just for little notebooks and idea scraps. Mostly.


  6. Not a box, because I don’t have a desk, but notebooks. I jot everything down in them. If I have to use scrap paper, I stick them in my book when I get home.

    I have 39 notebooks like that (I number and date them 🙂 ). When I’m stuck, I read through old notebooks until something inspires me.


  7. I have a notebook I carry with me when I go out and I have always some sheets of paper lying on my desk in case I have one of those “classic ideas” at night 🙂
    A box would be a great way to store the “idea sheets” 😉


  8. I guess I keep an idea box in my head. I’m constantly on the alert for ideas. More importantly, I’ve always kept notebooks. I write down my observations and sometimes use them years later. They’ve proved very helpful in my writing. An idea box sounds like the same concept. Great post!


  9. obrigado por vim com esta incrível idéia , aonde for levarei meu
    caderno para anotações de questões inováveis, e não esquecerei
    do lápis , e seguir as 10 razões .


  10. My “box” is actually my computer. I keep at least one notebook and my PDA with me, virtually all the time. If I have an idea, I try to jot it down in one of those places. Then I periodically consolidate the ideas into appropriate notes on my computer (Word documents or folders). For example, I have a blogging folder with sentence-or-two post inspirations, each in its own document.
    Also, since I write Vacation Bible School lessons, I try to keep organized lists of related story ideas. For those, I call the document by a generic name, like “Joshua VBS” and, within that document, list the things I would like to cover in that program and relevant references for each story.
    As others have said, the idea box–virtual or tangible–is a real brain-saver on those less-than-creative days! 🙂


  11. An idea box? Didn’t know it had a name but I keep one. I carry a little notebook that helps me capture ideas. Sometimes it’s just an idea, other times it’s an outline or the entire piece. Does a camera count? I capture ideas on my camera too.


  12. Having an idea box really works. My idea box is my iPod or laptop and I continuously jot down notes when inspired. And yes, it sure does help with boredom. 🙂


  13. I always carry a notebook so I can always write when someting comes to mind or when a computer is not available. I actually write about anything and everything in it, to do lists, posts, stories, thougths, they all end up in my notbook first. I fill one A5 notebook every three or four months!
    And I think a camera counts too, I take it everywhere and when I see something interesting I take a picture


  14. In the office, I use stick notes, real or virtual on the computer screen. When I am out, my phone has a note-taking feature, and I keep a very small voice recorder in my bag for notes while driving. Probably illegal though, right?


  15. A wise old friend (a business man) told me that he always kept pen and paper by his bedside, and in his jacket pocket. The bedside idea is a great one – solutions to problems, or blog ideas often come to me in the dead of night. If I don’t write them down, they’ve gone by the morning!


  16. It is a good idea but I know me. I have way too much clutter in my life, that I am trying to get rid. Having a box where I store my ideas will just increase my litter I think. A notebook or a draft email on my blackberry has been helping me for the longest time. Plus, at the moment, I dont have anywhere to put my box so thats why I said it would create litter. But its still a good idea 🙂


  17. Gostei da idéia, uma caixa para gardar as idéias, por enquanto eu as guardo na cabeça, e está dando certo, mas vou pensar na sua idéia ok?
    Abraços a todos Mina!


  18. I have an idea notebook. Couldn’t survive without it! I’ve learned the hard way that some of those fleeting thoughts we sometimes get while working on something make the best stories 🙂 Oh, and I always have a camera with me, that counts as an “idea keeper” too, I think.


  19. What a great idea!I sometimes recored and write so themes as i think of them but to have a specific box, where it is all in one place and not all over the place,Thank you.