Yes, even YOU. Even if you’re not ‘creative’. And no, your phone won’t do.
No matter what you’re working on, inspiration can strike anywhere. If you’re focussed on business, you might think of a great marketing slogan. If you’re a parent, something you want to teach or show your child. Working on your relationship? You might need to note down a great idea to surprise or delight your partner.
If you don’t have a way to catch your idea straight away, you’ll either: a. Forget it, or b. Silently repeat it to yourself until you can write it down, which pulls you out of the present and so blocks further inspiration from coming through at that time. Neither of these are great options.
So why the notebook? Why not just use the notetaking function on your phone?
5 reasons a notebook is better than the notes function on your phone
One - Otherwise it's too easy to get distracted from writing your idea down when you see you have a new email/ message etc. Even if you don’t check the notification, the fact that you have a notification will start to pull you out of the zone of inspiration and into the realm of socialising, planning, etc. Even seeing an app for something like a weather forecast sparks off a train of thought about the washing on the line, what you’re doing on the weekend, or when you last saw a sunrise. With a notebook, none of those interruptions occur. You encounter: a blank page. And all that’s waiting for you is the space in which to capture, and perhaps expand upon, your inspiration.
Two - Even if you do stay focused and write your idea down on your phone, as soon as you’re done, the next thing you’ll do is check that email/message etc. Whereas when you use a notebook, you’re not aware of the notifications yet. Instead you remain focussed on your original idea, and so open to further inspiration. Inspiration is a funny character who likes to hang out with itself rather than play with the other kids – one inspiration tends to lead to more inspiration, as long as you can stay focussed on that line of thinking.
Three - A notebook reminds you, with its very presence, that you are working on something and looking for inspiration, keeping you focussed and alert to opportunities. If you carry a notebook with you in your bag or someplace visible in your car, then you are reminded several times a day that your life has a focus and a goal at present, one which you are invested enough in to bother carrying a notebook around! So your mind is more attuned to inspiration when it comes. Also, other people may see the notebook. They might ask you about it, or you might feel compelled to explain it. When you do this, you will bring even more focus to your project, because now you are accountable for it – that person might ask you about it later, and won’t it look bad if you’ve forgotten all about your project or have to admit you’ve given up on it?
This is the complete opposite of your phone, which reminds you that there are a million other things happening in the world right now and you’re missing out on some of them and you really should know about some of those, shouldn’t you? and encourages you to scroll scroll scroll and short attention span and never really finishing or focussing on anything in particular.
Four - If you’re not convinced yet, then consider the fact that writing in a notebook won’t get you in trouble with the police when you do it at traffic lights. It’s also more socially acceptable to use at a park while watching your kids, and slightly less jealousy inducing for your partner to see you writing in a blank book rather than be wondering ‘who are you texting now?’
Five - Keeping all your ideas in one place where you can see them all together is a great reminder that ideas do come, and more will come, which is helpful to remember when you’re feeling flat. In fact, when you’re uninspired, you can leaf through the book and immediately be quasi-inspired by what has been written before – finding something you didn’t quite finish that you could work on or giving yourself the best breeding ground for another idea to be born – remember that inspiration likes to hang out with inspiration – even when that comes from the past.
A great idea for forward movement in your current project can turn around an otherwise bad day. Inspiration has that power. Catching the idea is essential to your happiness!
But what if I don’t have a project?
Of course, all this is only relevant if you have something that you love and are passionate about that you’re choosing to actively work on and get better at – aka ‘your project’. If you don’t have a project, I strongly suggest you get one. Having something that you can work on, whether it’s a business, a creative project, being your best parent/ partner/daughter self or whatever you personally enjoy, is a very powerful way of ensuring you live a fulfilling life. This is because achievement - watching ourselves improve in an area of our life we care about - is strongly linked to a sense of self-esteem and a positive mood.
It’s also important for our mood to have a sense of control in at least some areas of our life. Making up a project (which is also often called setting a goal, following a dream, or living your values) where you can actively make things happen gives you that sense of control and will improve your mood, particularly if you can work on it after a day where things have gone awry and bad things have happened which you have not been able to control).
One of the other compelling reasons to get a project is the chance to experience inspiration. You know how creative people put up with being really poor for years on end? That’s because the experience of inspiration, and then carrying out those ideas, is so intrinsically satisfying that money can’t compete. And you know those entrepreneurs who work 18 hour days on their business idea? They can sustain that because inspiration, and seeing those ideas manifested, is so fulfilling that they can put up with the sleep deprivation and completely unbalanced lifestyle. Living in harmony with inspiration helps you tolerate all sorts of other uncomfortable circumstances. I highly recommend finding a project which allows inspiration to enter your life.
So if you don’t have a project yet, go get one (as well as the notebook and pen!). If you’re stuck for ideas on what area to concentrate your self-improvement/ project on, then check out this guide which will help you to choose an area of your life you value and to develop some ideas for goal setting around this value. If you want one-to-one help to create a personalised project that resonates with exactly who you are and what excites you, then fill out my contact form here – just put “notebook project” in the comment box. Then it’s just a matter of starting to work towards your goals, remaining open to inspiration (notebook always at the ready!) and watching the magic happen!
Lana Hall, Psychologist. Helping you to live your best life, using the power of psychology.