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If an Idea’s Worth Having Once, It’s Worth Having Twice.*

May 6, 2010

Ideas that escape are fast and slippery and not likely to be hunted down.
• Carrie Latet

Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one had no time to write down.
• Hector Berlioz

Do you ever wonder where your lost ideas go to and why it’s so difficult to retrieve them? I’ve had several today that escaped me due to the lack of pockets in my clothing and my reluctance to carry a purse. No cards. No pen. Without pockets, I’m also without a place to keep my phone, another handy idea-capturing device.

When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.
• Michael Leboeuf

I’m sure these lost ideas were brilliant, at least they seemed so as I was thinking them. Surely they must at least have been serviceable ideas, worth looking over. Now they’re gone and I’m left wondering if they will sneak back in if I quit looking for them. I wonder too if I will recognize them or if they will seem new and I will still mourn the loss of those I failed to save.

Everyone is in love with his [or her] own ideas.
• Carl Gustav Jung

Losing ideas while you’re awake is like dreaming and awakening to the loss of something you know was wonderful but is no longer there. I often capture my dreams, but many of them are gone before I can grab a pen. Their loss is tantalizing, but less frustrating than my waking failures.

You’ll always get an idea if you think and don’t panic.
• Norman Vincent Peale

Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali was fascinated by the creative possibilities of the hypnologic state between wakefulness and sleep and tried to capture its imaginative powers by awakening himself just as he was sinking into sleep. He’s been reported to have experimented while sitting up in a chair, often after a large meal, holding a spoon to his chest which dropped into a metal mixing bowl in his lap as he drifted off or holding marbles or ball bearings in his hands which fell into pie tins on the floor.

You do not know what is in you—an inexhaustible fountain of ideas.
• Brenda Ueland

I lose ideas every day. I’m distracted by other things and ideas flitter through my consciousness so quickly that they are gone before I can record them. Some days there are just too many and I am too slow. But I love them, they represent endless creative possibilities. Pythagoras said that a thought is an idea in transit. I like this. There are flocks of thoughts forever circling in my brain, but it is the ideas ripe with creative potential that I want to capture and cage so that I can eventually release them into the world as something more.

Everything of mine is permeated by my love of ideas—both big and small. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it grabs me and holds me, fascinates me. And then I’ll run out and do something about it. . . I write for fun.
• Ray Bradbury

I do not “get” ideas; ideas “get” me.
• Robertson Davies

Is there an idea that’s captured your imagination? Something you’re wondering about? Something that fascinates you? Where has your mind taken you lately? Have you recorded any of your wanderings?

The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time.
• Henry Ford

* Thanks to Tom Stoppard for the title quotation.

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