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James Altucher


10 Things I Learned Writing 100 Idea Lists in a Row

This is my 100th idea list in a row on NotePD. There's a lot of interesting things I've noticed, particularly since I've never done them on a website before and always have done them on, literally, note pads. Like waiter's pads.

    1. My writing has improved

    I write quite a bit and have written 25 books. But I notice with these idea lists that my writing is with much less flourish and gets right to the heart of each idea really quickly. Often, writers get anxiety that the writing is "good" or "bad" but with these lists it forces me to be as concise as possible with no extra "style".

    2. Writer's block eliminated.

    For the first time in decades, I had writer's block after my "NYC is Dead" article. I got so much backlash on that (mostly from people who didn't read the article) that I think it got to me a bit. I wrote articles after but not as consistently. I don't really know why. I even did a podcast with a specialist on burning out.

    But when I write these idea lists AND with the thought that I don't want to break the streak, then it forces me to put words down. Doesn't matter what. I'm going to make that idea list.

    And as, many of you have now realized, each idea list can easily be made into an article.

    3. The ideas are a bit more fleshed out.

    Sometimes when I write an idea list just for myself on a regular pad I don't have to explain the ideas, I just write them down. But with these, since most of my lists I label as "public" I feel I have to flesh them out a bit more so they are readable. But this makes me think more about what the idea is really about.

    4. Storytelling

    Often I try to attach a story with each idea. I didn't used to do this. But storytelling makes any idea more readable and more understandable.

    5. Book ideas galore!

    So many of the idea lists posted here (by everyone) can be made into books. I see book outlines on this site every single day.

    And so many of my idea lists have given me ideas for new books. I've never had so many book ideas before.

    When I wrote Skip the Line I did it using the "idea list method".

    - Write a list of chapters
    - write a list of points about each chapter
    - write a list of stories that relate to each point

    Staple them together and you have a first draft of a book.

    Most of my 25 books have been done using that method. All the way back to the first one in 2004, "Trade Like a Hedge Fund."

    6. Accountability

    Because the site keeps track of the streaks, there's no excuses. I know if I've been good or bad! So be good for goodness' sake.

    Once I got off a place around 11pm, rushed to the hotel and I was so tired. But I still made that idea list.

    7. Learning accountability and other use cases

    This is a great place to keep track of things I learn. Sometimes I think I learn things but then I forget what I've learned or I don't write them down which gives me a second chance to think about them. This has been a great way to keep track of my own learning.

    8. Community

    I never had community around my idea lists. Now people make comments, I respond to comments, I get new ideas from the comments, and I can make comments on other people's idea lists. It's amazing how smart and creative everyone is and we've all been able to interact here.

    9. Keeping track is more useful than I thought.

    People used to ask me, do you keep track of your ideas? I didn't. Because I just wanted to keep "exercise" the idea muscle. That was the only use. But it turns out that keeping track is much more useful than I thought. Like the learning accountability I mentioned above. Or keeping track of ideas for businesses. You never know when later "idea sex" (combining two ideas) could happen as you keep track.

    It's also been really useful to use the search feature to search everyone's public idea lists to get ideas from other people to build on.

    10. Challenges

    What a great thing. I love the Challenges that people have been posting. They are great idea prompts and I love reading and making the lists that come out of them. At first I didn't respond to challenges because I wanted to come up with my own idea prompts.

    But the challenges are really challenging! And it's fun to come up with unique answers to the challenges as I see everyone else's challenges.

    11. Finally, it really is a better way to exercise the idea muscle.

    I feel like my creativity has skyrocketed since beginning this streak. I hope I never stop. Thank you all for participating in this site. We have great and exciting new features coming.

    2 new features hitting soon:
    - a better way to write these lists. Instead of this pop up window, we're going to have a more "Medium" style rich text format page that you go to, almost like a word processor. So it will be a much smoother process and more richly formatted should you choose.
    - Premium lists. Let's say you have an idea for a course or a masterclass or a "special report". You can make your list, make it premium, and charge for it. Like an online learning site but with an entire community around t.

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