How I Capture My Fleeting Insights

Over the years, I’ve learned that some of my insights and ideas come to me when I least expect them. Thinking back, the best ones usually come to me in the middle of the night. I wake up, and something I couldn’t figure out is suddenly crystal clear. I have a stream of related insights. It’s like all the puzzle pieces fit together and I can see the picture clearly.

These episodes can be fleeting. Just as suddenly as inspiration comes, it can go. I’ve had great insights in the middle of the night that I didn’t capture. Maybe I was too tired to get up or didn’t have the right tools. Whatever the reason, I’ve regretted not recording them when I couldn’t remember them the next morning. Knowing I had the insight and not being able to recall it was frustrating.

Knowing how rare and valuable these moments are and how quickly they dissipate, I’ve changed my approach. When I have an insight in the middle of the night, I get up and write it down in my journal. I don’t try to organize my thoughts. I simply write down as much of my stream of consciousness as possible. My brain is in the zone, and my goal is to capture as much of its output as possible. There’ll be time to organize it later. 

It happened last night. The solution to a problem I’ve been thinking about for months came to me. I recognized what was happening, got out of bed, and spent an hour writing down my thoughts. When I reviewed them this morning, I was glad I’d captured them. I think they’re the building blocks of something that could be big.

Great insights don’t happen every day. When I have them, I do whatever I can to capture them.