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Brainhack by Neil Pavitt

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25 Take Notes

“Very often, gleams of light come in a few minutes' sleeplessness, in a second perhaps; you must fix them. To entrust them to the relaxed brain is like writing on water; there is every chance that on the morrow there will be no slightest trace left of any happening.”

Antonin Sertillanges

Have you had that feeling of having a great idea and then not being able to remember it later in the day? It's incredibly frustrating.

The idea that was going to make you millions, save the world, inspire a nation…is gone.

Our thought process is very fluid and our thoughts often ephemeral. So don't leave it for even ten minutes, write it down! It may not seem as elegant as it did in your head. It may not be fully formed. Don't worry; just make a note of it.

Whenever Woody Allen has an idea, he writes it down on a piece of paper and puts it in a drawer in his bedside table. When he's finished one film and it's time to write another, he takes all the scraps of paper from the drawer and spreads them out on his bed. He then goes through them one by one and sees if any of them spark anything off.

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They can be as simple as one line. This is one of them: “A man inherits all the magic tricks of a great magician.”1 As he looks at each one he thinks if there's anything about it that inspires him. If there's nothing, he puts it ...

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