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My Steal-Like-an-Artist Method of Collecting Ideas

It’s so easy, it feels like cheating

Bev G 🧙‍♀️
3 min readOct 6, 2022

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Think of this as a website. Photo by Daniel Robert on Unsplash

I have an Obsidian note with about 700 ideas for articles. When I have a little time, I add another 10 to it. It’s an easy method, so easy that it feels a bit like cheating. It’s not.

Remember, with very few exceptions, everything is built on what has gone before. That applies to architecture, art, and writing. We learn from those who are successful in our chosen fields. And we expand their ideas into more ideas.

My not-quite-cheating method is to visit a selection of magazine sites that cover my favourite topics. Sometimes they are actual magazines. I look at titles I would choose to read.

This bit is important

I don’t read the articles. Only the titles. They are seeds.

I spend a minute thinking about how I would approach that title. If the seed sprouts, I make a note of the title and its link. That’s what goes into my list. Along with a one-sentence thought about how I would write it.

When I scroll through my list, I always find one I feel like writing. Yet, I can’t use that title, so I play with re-wording or, better, changing it completely, depending on that sprouting seed of an idea.

Screenshot from my ideas note in Obsidian. Screenshot by author.

I still don’t read the article

Instead, I play with lists or mind-mapping associations connected with the idea. This helps me to devise possible subheadings. Those subheadings will provide the structure and outline. I do the necessary research and fact-checking. If I get that far, the piece is practically writing itself.

I know I cannot possibly plagiarize the original because I haven’t read it. Neither have I copied the title, only the nugget of the idea contained within.

Some tips

  • Take a general idea and make it personal. For example: ‘How to find love in your community’ to ‘I took an art class and found the love of my life’.

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Bev G 🧙‍♀️

Mama of three grown children and six dogs. Generally a bit weird. Lives in Wales, UK.