A Digital Notebook Actually Hurts The Creative Process

Organizing your ideas should be like making an abstract expressionist painting…messy. Unfortunately, organizing your ideas in a digital notebook is only hurting your creative process. Let me explain. 

Have you ever seen Jackson Pollack creating one of his masterpieces? It’s brilliant. With his brush already in hand, loaded with paint, he takes his inspiration and throws it on the canvas. He doesn’t contemplate each move; he simply does it.

When an idea pops into your head, write it down. And that’s as far as your organization efforts should go.

Don’t catalog each idea in alphabetical order, based on subject, and where you were when you got the idea. You know why? Because that will actually kill your ability to connect ideas down the road.

Einstein was famous for his messy desk. Most might look at this as hoarding, but it was his brilliant creative process. This forced him to look through each idea snippet every time he needed to solve something. In the process of looking for a specific piece of the puzzle, he might’ve found a completely irrelevant piece that sparked a new idea or solved the problem in a different way.

Finding your ideal creative setting doesn’t have to be hard and you definitely don’t need an Einstein desk. But, your creative process needs Einstein’s metaphorical puke of ideas.

Let your head feel free of constraints by writing down your ideas as they come. Then, you can revisit and recollect what you previously thought while allowing your mind to find the next idea.

A creative’s organization includes a clear head and a piled-up mess of ideas.

What is the future of the digital notebook?

It can be a hassle carrying around a notebook designated for ideas.

We’ve seen digital journals such as note-taking apps and even the Neo smartpen N2 where you can write on paper and it shows up digitally. But, they’re just digital versions of the physical note-taking form.

We’ve yet to see a smart digital notebook which will empower the creative journal of the future.

Apple’s iPad Pro took a PB&J and simply made it a double decker when they should’ve changed the game and deep-fried that sucker. In other words, it merely digitized traditional note-taking, keeping the same creative process.

I want a smart digital notebook that can take what I highlight across any app or website and add it to a favorites folder.

Often times I find myself spending 10 minutes trying to make the perfect box around an idea when creating an idea map. Why can’t my notebook perfect my imperfect shapes and arrows?

Have you ever created a whole grid of data (by hand) and wanted to convert it to an Excel spreadsheet version? I know, it’s harder than putting toothpaste back in the tube. There’s no reason that a smart digital notebook can’t convert this.

Those are low-hanging fruit that honestly notes apps should already do.

Ideally, a smart digital notebook should be like William Shatner’s captain’s log in Star Trek. But, I’ll settle for one that can analyze what I write and treat them as commands.

Like if I realized that I needed to grocery shopping while writing this article, I could’ve written: Grocery Shopping Tonight, and it would’ve been added to my To-Do List. Or if I wanted John Cena to offer up some of his thoughts on this article, I could’ve written: Invite John Cena to Collaborate, and he would’ve been able to collaborate on the document with me.

In essence, a smart digital notebook understands what I’m writing and will act according to the content that I write. The technology for a smart notebook is here, it’s just a matter of someone making it.

However, as smart notebooks come to fruition, are we taking a step further from Einstein’s creative mess?

While I still keep most of my ideas in a notebook, I do like to transfer them into digital form. All of the insights I have on modern technology get put into a weekly email newsletter, Quick Theories, so that you can better understand how new technology affects your life. If you occasionally feel overwhelmed by the advancements in technology, you can sign-up here: quicktheories.com

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