Capturing butterflies...

Douglas D. Germann, Sr. 76066.515 at
Mon Jun 21 20:22:56 PDT 2004


Got this from a friend, and it just seemed an interesting take on a subject
close to the hearts of a few of us.

Enjoy what it invites to fly in you!


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Butterfly Ideas

Sometimes you can have a mentor even though neither one of you is
aware of what's happening.  Years ago I worked alongside Dr. Don
Deffner and I learned a lot from him, even if he didn't realize
he was teaching and I didn't realize how much I learned until

Back then I was writing from time to time, but writing for
publication was not a big part of my life.  For Don, on the other
hand, writing was part and parcel of what he did.

Don had written several books and hundreds of shorter projects by
then.  He was also a professor of preaching.  Watching him come
up with ideas for his projects was a remarkable process.  In this
Tip and next week's I'll tell you about how Don did it.

One of the first things you noticed about him was that he was
constantly writing things down on little slips of paper.  This
might be a notepad that he carried with him, but just as often it
would be a napkin or a piece of notebook paper scrounged from a
student or an index card or a utility bill--whatever was handy.

He'd stop in the middle of anything, even a lecture to write
something down.  He was capturing ideas.

I asked him about it one day.  "Ideas are like butterflies," he
told me, "if you don't capture them right away, the fly away and
they're gone forever."

Isn't that the truth?  How often have you had an idea for a great
article or the perfect wording for that lead that was giving you
trouble, only to be unable to remember it when you needed it?  It
happens to me.  It happens to all of us.

It's human nature to believe that the idea is so good that we'll
remember it.  It's also human nature to have the idea fly away
like a butterfly if we don't capture it right away.

If you want to have those great ideas when you need them, you
have to capture them when they fly by.  You need an idea catcher.

My favorite is a small digital voice recorder that slips neatly
into my pocket.  Other writers I know use index cards, notebooks,
even laptop computers.  I was once having breakfast with Jeffrey
Gitomer when someone stopped at the table to ask him a question.

The question sparked an idea.  "Just a minute," he said after the
questioner had left.  Then he pulled out his laptop and typed in
a few notes.  When he was done he looked up at me.  "There," he
said, "that will be a column someday."

It doesn't matter what you use, but use something.  Make it
something you can have with you all the time if possible.  I
supplement my voice recorder with a small Moleskine
( notebook for
times when speaking out loud would be inappropriate.

If that name's familiar, it's because Moleskine has been making
notebooks for decades.  They've been the favorite idea catcher
for some pretty good writers like Ernest Hemingway.  Even the
best of us need to catch those butterfly ideas.

Next week: What Don Did With His Notes


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