How can a hardcopy planner help you with creative thinking?


„The horror of that moment I shall never, never forget!“ – said the King,

„You will, though“, the Queen said, „If you don’t make a memorandum out of it.”

This advice from Lewis Carrol in Alice in Wonderland certainly applies in all areas of life. The one practical step you can take now is to buy a new notebook to record possible materials for your present or future use: ideas, thoughts, a scrap of conversation, something you have seen or heard somewhere, a quotation from a book or a movie, and anything that is on your mind.

Just write it down!

You have probably experienced waking up in the middle of the night with an idea. It was such a good one that you told yourself to remember it next morning. But, like the memory of your dreams, it fades fast away. ‘Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one has not had time to write down’, Hector Berlioz has stated. He spoke from experience.

However, he is not the only one experiencing that. So keep in mind: keep a pencil and pad by your bed. Carry a pocket notebook so that ideas that strike you while waiting for someone or travelling on a train can be recorded. Later you can transfer these jottings to your main notebook. Or be more proactive and take your Planzy everywhere and write EVERYTHING down in your Planzy Planner.

John Adair also suggests you copy out some of your favourite inspirational quotations in your planner/ notebook.  That, he claims, gives you an occasion to reflect deeply on them. For, as you slowly write or type, you have to pay attention to both the exact form and the content of what is being said. The act of writing itself impresses the words more deeply on your mind (read more in the previous blog post). Once a thought is in your own handwriting you have appropriated it personally: it is now numbered among the ideas and influences that matter to you.

However, you should really find joy in this practice, since “No profit grows where is no pleasure taken” (Shakespeare).

This kind of method is a very convenient and very useful tool for creative thinking because it brings together very diverse material. Namely, when you look through your notebook you will begin to notice various constellations of links and connections. It is this coming together of elements hitherto unrelated- the interaction of unlikely ideas and elements- that makes a notebook of this nature a veritable seedbed of new ideas.

The author of The art of creative thinking: How to be innovative and develop your ideas, John Adair suggests that you should not look at your entries too often. The best time to browse through them creatively is on a train or on a plane while waiting in airports, or on holiday when the mind is fresh and unencumbered with daily business.

And, once more, let us (John Adair and I) sum it all up:

  • Keeping a notebook is more than a useful habit: it is a vitally important tool for all creative thinking purposes.
  • ‘A man would do well to carry a pencil in his pocket’, said Francis Bacon, ‘and write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought are commonly the most valuable and should be secured because they seldom return’.
  • Writing down a quotation or passage, fact or piece of information is a mean of meditation upon it and appropriating it personally so that it grows into part of you.
  • Imagine that your notebook is like a kaleidoscope. At a time when you are feeling in a creative frame of mind, give it a metaphorical shake. You can play with new combinations and interconnections. They may suggest new ideas or lines of thoughts.
  • Do not forget to add inspirational quotations, stories and examples to your own personal collection. For creative thinking calls for stimulus, encouragement and inspiration. If you build a positive orientation of mind you will become increasingly more creative in your thinking.


In the end, something to reflect on:

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up” – Oliver Wendell Holmes


SOURCE: John Adair, The art of creative thinking: How to be innovative and develop your ideas, Kogan Page, 2007, pp. 57-60

Open chat