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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Low-Tech Creativity
All you need to generate big ideas

Yesterday I shared a high-tech way to record ideas, today I just wanted to remind you (and myself) all we REALLY need to capture a big idea is a tiny piece of paper and something with which to write.

Some of my best ideas have been scribbled on napkins and Post-It notes. I think it's one of the reasons I'm so fond of the animated banner atop the IdeaCradle webpage.

Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools page indicates that he prefers a pencil, but I like pens. Pens with black ink. Or red. Usually a medium-point ballpoint pen, but I also like the way a rollerball pen slides across the page and leaves a trail of dark, wet ink in its wake -- although I usually end up dragging the side of my hand through it, smearing the ink a bit.

The ballpoint is definitely my favorite. Especially the ones with the 'clicker'. I can click away furiously (usually without being aware of it) annoying anyone in the near vicinity, and sometimes chomp on the end of it like some crazed cigar smoker. Ever use a pen to sort of poke your forehead while you were noodling an idea? I think I have a permanent dent in my forehead from doing that.

If I've used a napkin or Post-It to capture the core concept of an idea, I usually tape it inside one of my idea journals and add more details around the edges (like a mindmap) to explore and elaborate on the initial idea.

In order to capture other creative angles which to explore on a single idea, or to even write in a different "voice" within the same journal page, I have re-discovered a retro-pen I remember as being so cool as a kid because it had four ink colors in a single pen.

At one point Creativity Central had even created a branded version of the identical pen (although I no longer see it in their online store) that they labeled a "Think Pen". A recommended use for each ink color was imprinted on the body of the pen:
Black = Facts
Red = Energy
Green = Possibilities
Blue = Concerns

Sometimes I'll go back with a highlighter to emphasize certain aspects of the ideas I've scribbled down -- and don't even get me started on how much I love dry-erase boards!

...but that's another story.


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