10 Reasons Every Writer Should Keep an Idea Box


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:

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?

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22 thoughts on “10 Reasons Every Writer Should Keep an Idea Box

  1. thanks a lot for the wonderful idea of the idea box…one of my friends also suggested me same few years back when she sensed my interest for writing but knew i’m falling short of ideas…your blog just supported her idea and even filled in the gaps that her suggestion left…i’ll now be carrying a scribble pad in my purse all the time so that whenever any great idea pops up, i can treasure it for future use…keep writing..may god bless us all

    1. That’s wonderful! I am so happy I’ve helped encourage you to carry around a small notepad and pen. It’s amazing how it opens your mind and allows you to view the world in a different, creative light. You’re always looking for ideas, this way. Please do stay in touch! I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

  2. Thank you, EVERYONE, for your input! Apologies I didn’t have time to respond to each and every one of you, as I usually try to do. At the time of this post, life was exceptionally busy. But I read everyone’s comments, and appreciate them all!

    –Shari

  3. I like very much that you put in your blog. I’m Spanish so i don’t write a right english, sorry. Its true, sometimes i have a little notebook in my bag, im not a profesional writter, and when come to me the inspiration, i take my notebook and i write, i write, and i write… jajaja, but just when im boredom i have best ideas than when im not. jajaja im strange u.u’ .
    Well, i really like your post 😀

  4. I have an idea folder, which has slips of paper that I’ve scribbled on, articles I’ve torn out of magazines and newspapers, and other random notes. A box might be nifty though…

  5. Hello ,
    My name is Simona Munteanu and I just made a blog where I wrote not only my thoughts, in a literary way, but also my social opinion. I am from Romania and allways is wellcome a profesional opinion and help. The link of my blog is http://munteanusimona.wordpress.com. I used such a kind of notes because sometimes I am in a moment when I am not in the mood to wrote ..but I keep the idea for the right moment. I will posted also in English language .
    BEST REGARDS!

  6. Great idea, Shari! My idea box lives in my smartphone, and believe me, it would be FULL if that were possible! I actually just added one today, but it had nothing to do with writing. I think EVERYone should have an idea box/color note app/idea journal because it just helps keep our minds fresh, regardless of our occupation.

  7. I have a beautiful, very thick, leather bound journal. I thought it was too expensive for me until, YAY, I found several on the clearance rack for 8$ each (originaly 30$ each) and grabbed ’em all.
    I keep ideas, advice, notes on bits of paper, drawings, clippings, fortune cookie fortunes, extra book marks, perfume samplers from magazines, paper clips, interesting words, lists of stuff, quotes from authors, etc., etc., etc.,
    I carry it everywhere and I’m constantly noting down interesting observations that could come in handy for stories.
    I never know when an idea will come to me!

    I have to keep it closed with a rubber band, :p

  8. I can’t imagine NOT having an idea box (or notebook in my case). I have a small notebook that I carry with me at all times to jot down ideas when I’m out and about (or even at home away from the computer). And I also have a sheet with all my potential blog posts that I keep with me in my planner. I love this because if I ever don’t know what to write about, I just get my list out and pick a topic. And there’s never a shortage of topics!

  9. I love this post! I’ve been meaning to make myself an idea box for ages, and just never quite got around to doing so — you’ve inspired me to finally get on that! (And I love your own Barnes & Noble box, by the way; I’ve been admiring that one for months. It’s lovely.)

  10. GREAT idea! I often think of good topics for blog posts, for example, but do not write them down, so they are forgotten by the time I get to a computer! I will add a small notebook to my purse for jotting down random thoughts and ideas, then make a habit of tearing them out and putting them in a central place, near where I write.

    Great idea.

  11. I don’t have a box per se, but I have lots of Word docs in my “ideas” folder on my computer (created FROM those scribbles of paper, and those voice memo recordings that are SO handy during my morning jogs.) Like most, if I don’t get the idea down pronto, then it’s gone, unfortunately. The voice recorder has been a godsend since creativity seems to REALLY flow during my morning runs.

  12. I keep several notebooks in my purse, a small basket on my desk, and about four hundred million scraps of paper (maybe a slight exageration), but one of my goals THIS WEEK is to get more organized and I think an idea box might be just the ticket! Great great post!

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