I have an idea!

I have multiple notebooks. For anyone who writes, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Each notebook has a designated purpose — gratitude journal, to-do notebook, daily journal, and so on.

For work, I’ve always had three notebooks at a time. One is my to-do, daily, weekly and monthly. Another is my story mapping notebook. This is where I write structure for all my stories, outlining where quotes come, what the segues are, etc. The third is my story ideas notebook.

An ideas notebook has held me in good stead all these years. Every time I had a brainwave, which always happens at odd times, I recorded it in the ideas notebook. Many ideas didn’t pan out. Some that did ended up being published.

If you’re wondering why I’m saying this, it’s to exhort you to have a similar one (or a Google Doc, if that’s what you’re comfortable with). This is not revolutionary, but it’s a simple solution to that moment when you’re racking your brain for a new idea.

Inspiration can be tricky. It rarely strikes you at the time you need it. This has been one of my go-to methods to get inspired and start writing. It doesn’t matter if the idea is strange or just plain bad. When I go back to read these notebooks, I usually end up with a new idea.

This year has been a setback in this front. Yes, 2020 has been a shit year for everyone, and for me, the ideation I’ve had all year is suicidal. But with help, I’ve begun a new notebook recently, towards the end of the year. And my ideas are back, even if they don’t sound so great right now. It’s a start. A slow march towards normalcy.

Keep one for yourself. Write it all down, quality notwithstanding, and go back to it on a day where you don’t feel productive. It works.

Written by Sruthi Radhakrishnan, a writer at emdash, after a 10-year stint in journalism, who obsesses over little details. She can be found @sruthirk on Twitter.