Where Do Your Ideas Live?

Something that I hear from many people is “I don’t have good ideas”.

Meh. I think you’ve got great ideas, you just haven’t put them together yet.

What you need is a Spark File. The writer Steven Johnson is the first person I could find that talked about it.

The basic idea is this:

Whenever you have a hunch or idea, put it in your spark file.

Don’t judge it, don’t think about it, don’t muse on it, just put it in there.

This does 2 things:

  1. It makes it so you have immediately ‘acted’ on the idea – you don’t have to go out and buy the domain, start coding, or anything. You’ve acted on the idea and closed the loop.
  2. You’ve got it written down, so you can’t forget it.

Now, for the last part:

Put a recurring calendar event – every 2-3 months (take your pick) seems like a good pace.

Return to your spark file every time that event comes up. Re-read the whole thing, from start to finish.

Who knows – maybe you’ll start to see a pattern of ideas around a topic. Or you’ll see things that can fit together in a blog post.

I don’t believe that writing down your ideas means you’ll get more of them. It just means that you’ll be able to look at them and say “Wow, I’ve got a bunch of ideas!”

Happy spark filing!


The impetus for this blog post was from reading my spark file where I had put the following sentence:

People have ideas, but don’t remember them. Talk about spark file and how it closes the loop by taking action on it.

Credit to Alex Hillman for his post on lifehacker , which is the first time I remember ever hearing the term ‘spark file’.

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