What's the big idea?
Go ahead. Admit it. You read newspapers or you wouldn’t be reading this.
I’ll admit I read newspapers. Lots of them – in print and online. I love them. They are my fix on the world each day.
Here’s a question for you: Do you read books? Yes, those stuffy old things with hard covers and paperbacks. Maybe even digital books from Amazon or wherever.
I prefer non-fiction books on paper and I’ll tell you why. I mangle them. I’ll tell you why and how in a minute.
I appreciate a good story. I like a plot that zigs and zags and characters that capture my attention and anger or inspire me. For that I need a well-written novel.
Most of those I read on my cell phone.
If you had told me 10 years ago I would read books on my phone I would have thought you had lost your mind.
Books on your phone? You’re kidding.
Now if I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, I can read a novel on my phone in the dark in bed without disturbing my sleeping wife.
It doesn’t take long before I grow drowsy and can fall back into lala land.
Otherwise, I’m a non-fiction guy mostly who makes marginal notes in the borders of the text. An idea or a sentence by a writer will trigger a thought and I’ll jot it down in the margins.
Won’t that destroy the book’s value for someone else? Maybe but it’s my book and I may refer to it again later.
Once at a yard sale I bought a copy of one of Rudolf Flesch’s books on readable writing and plain English. The reader before me had underlined passages that struck him and made marginal notes in its pages. It was a charming experience. I felt I had stumbled into someone else’s brain and was enjoying seeing how he thought.
I had been underlining important passages in books for years. After seeing Flesch’s book marked up, I started jotting down notes in margins. It stimulated creative thought. Some are like this little note you are reading and I am writing you.
My friend Rick Houcek has an intriguing way of using books for ideas.
Rick admits he has a short attention span. Sitting down to read is not his thing. But he will take a book from his library, open it at random and read a paragraph or two. It gives him an idea and he goes with it.
After I learned that, I tried it. It kind of worked but not really. Yet I’ve done it with books in the Bible, especially King Solomon’s Proverbs. I can read just one of his proverbs and write an essay about it.
Here’s how I get big ideas. I’m sharing it in case it may help your creativity:
• I note in my daily journal great ideas people share with me or I read about.
• In reading non-fiction, motivational books, I keep a highlighter handy.
When ideas jump out of the pages at me, I highlight them for later reference.
• So I can find that idea later, I make my own index in the back of the book.
When I read something worth recalling, a note goes in the back of the book: “Young and stupid - Page 99”
• I keep an index in the back of my journal, too. I don’t have to randomly open to a page. The index is always there to take me to the better ideas.
Try these. They may work for you, too.
Next: Creative vision.