Design Theory: Keep A Notebook

If you are like me, your ideas will come tumbling out of your subconscious in a random sequence. Sometimes there will be clumps of notions on a similar theme, sometimes not. However they appear they need to be captured and logged for later use. Notebooks are my preferred means.

These days I am sure that folk will use all manner of digital equivalents, and that’s fine too. Whatever mode of note-taking suits you. The important thing is to carry something around with you that can capture the ideas.

I find that notebooks are good because I can doodle board layouts, cover art roughs and logos as well as writing, and do most of that faster than on a keyboard. I often feel that these ideas fade very quickly, and don’t want to lose them, making speed vital.

I also feel that ideas from my subconscious are like a queue of traffic at the lights, or items on a conveyor belt at the end of the line. If I don’t take the first one away (by writing it down), then I’ll just keep being reminded of that one bumping against the end in ever varying forms as if it’s trying to explain itself and assumes that I’ve not understood so has to change the way it’s presented each time. My subconscious won’t be able to develop the next thought clearly until it’s out of the way. As soon as it’s captured my subconscious can let go of it and move on to the next idea. Over the years the routine of keeping notebooks seems to have speeded up and enhanced this process so that my “backbrain” expects and relies on me taking new ideas off the conveyor as soon as they appear, allowing it to run at a faster pace. All good.

Some ideas are well-formed, and most aren’t. Just take them down anyway and get them out of the way of the next one. When they’re on paper you may find that they spark further ideas and you can develop them from there. It’s not uncommon for an idea to mutate dramatically between initial note and final use. This is quite good actually, as it sometimes allows you to look at it again later, taking the initial note off in a completely different direction so that you get more than one use out of it 🙂

Whatever you end up doing with the ideas, get them out of the way of your subconscious as quickly as you can so that it can get on with its job of making cool new connections and answering puzzles while you can get on with developing them.

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6 Responses to Design Theory: Keep A Notebook

  1. Pingback: Design Theory: Simplicity vs Dumbing Down |

  2. MP7VRN says:

    Sometimes its easier said than done… My ideas are torturing me, even once have put it on paper and made it more or less work, they tend to grow into something completely different or take such highly demanding approach (like for example 3 level strategy game on table top) that i panic and say it will never happen. 😦 not at least in my current position. I can cope with but sometimes new ideas (not necessarily mine) are mutating already workable system into a new. That usually means starting from ground zero, again. Any cure against that?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Just keep noting down the ideas. Their job isn’t to emerge unaltered, it’s to free your brain so it can think more clearly, and occasionally to spark better ideas. Some ideas/notes will be useful, but not all and not immediately or necessarily in the way you expect. Perhaps an idea’s value will only become apparently once it’s matured for a while or you’ve thought of the other half of what makes it really shine.

      The important thing is to not lose the thought, and to clear it from your mind so you’re free to get on with the next thought.

  3. crimsonsun says:

    All I can say is thank goodness for Smart Phones, instead of note pad after note pad (which I still have) I input ideas, concepts and any thing else that pops into my head straight into word on my phone. Then I can send the file to my PC, expand upon it in paper format before typing it up properly.

  4. Pingback: Playtesting Questions |

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