Last week I came across the idea of a Spark File. It’s a single document where you record in chronological order all of your ideas and hunches and inspirations. You don’t edit. You just record. And then every so often you read through the entire document, acting on ideas you weren’t ready to act on before and recognizing connections between ideas that once seemed disparate.
For the last several years, I’ve kept a Google Doc cleverly titled “Blog” where I record all of my ideas for posts. It has played a role similar to a Spark File and become a place where I build on ideas and keep track of things I’m not sure what to do with yet. But I have always tried to keep it very organized and periodically purge it completely. I’m obsessed with organization and minimalism, and that carries over to my digital life as well.
I also keep several lists on Evernote, which I edit constantly. I was telling a friend recently that I feel like I never get the chance to really enjoy getting stuff done, because as soon as I can cross something off of a list, I just delete it completely and leave no record of it. These lists feel like an extension of my brain, and I prefer to keep them clean and edited, so that I can stay focused.
My journal is the only record I have that remains completely unedited. I have thought a lot about expanding my journaling practice to include lists and creative ideas, but I really prefer that it just remain a personal document that serves no practical purpose other than to keep me sane. My journal is also handwritten and not all that easy to search.
The idea of a Spark File intrigues me like no idea for creative organization has in a while, and I don’t have anything quite like it, so this weekend I decided to give it a try and started my own Spark File. For now I’m going to keep it on Evernote, since it syncs so easily across all of my devices. Organization is a very big deal to me, but I try to focus on practices that actually serve productivity instead of just making me feel like I’m getting something done when I’m really only procrastinating.
What really sold me on the idea was the description of reading through the Spark File as a way of “brainstorming with past versions of yourself.” I blog and journal primarily as a way to sort things out for myself in the present, but having those records has given me a sense of continuity that my life lacked previously.
I think The Writer’s Room is a blog I’ll be keeping my eye on in the future.