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The problem of too many ideas


Too much of a cute thing!

Hey, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? It totally sounds like anti-writer’s block. So, why do I call it a problem? 

Most of us are probably geeks and know the Star Trek universe better than our own, right? Well, remember The Trouble With Tribbles? Here are all these cute fluffy tribbles. People are petting them. Tribbles are cooing. So cute! Until they start multiplying, that is. Suddenly, there are so many of them that they start to cause dangerous problems.

All those ideas flooding your head, my friend, are tribbles. They look great, they sound great, you like to pet them in the interior parts of your brain. But…before you know it, there are so many of them you don’t know what to do with them. Where do you start? You become paralyzed and unable to act on all these thoughts. Burdened with the task of remembering them all, you don’t write anything! It’s the anti-anti-writer’s block! 

Most of us who are weighed down with TMI (Too Many Ideas) go to the despicable extreme of leaning on them like a crutch. “I have so many ideas, I just don’t know where to start,” we whine. All those tribbles clogging up the warp vents. No warp speed.

Enough mixing metaphors! You get the idea, right? And we should be ashamed of ourselves. There’s no making excuses for our actions. We should be writing awesome stories. What can we do?

Enter the first of our GTD concepts: ubiquitous capture. This hefty term refers to a method whereby all your tribbles are jettisoned and put to good work. Or, at least, put somewhere where they won’t cause any more damage.

It’s simple.  A brilliant idea pops into your head. It is so brilliant that you wince. Instead of keeping it up there, you get it out of your head and into/onto some other media. You store it for future use.  What kind of external media do you use? Anything you want: notepad, text file, voice recorder. You can Twitter it, email it to yourself, shave it into you dog’s fur. Anything at all, with the following caveat: that this external media is available to you at all times. It must always be within reach no matter where you are. (So, I guess the dog is not a good idea, go fig.) When you get the idea, it goes straight from head to media. After which you can forget all about it, at least until when you need to use it.

Why does this work? By comparison, recall the last time you cleaned your house, and in particular that one room that defies order. Remember the feeling of relief and empowerment? That’s what ubiquitous capture does for us. It clears the mind (literally!) of things that bog it down. It gives you a feeling of empowerment. You CAN write! You can write NOW!

I have a notebook that I keep in my messenger bag. I’m not too good at ubiquitous capture just yet, but that is my tool of choice. Give it a try yourself. Maybe TMI is a curable disease.

(Image from http://www.trekcore.com)

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