Brilliant thoughts in a box

For anyone who doesn’t dig the idea of structured journaling time, I submit to you “Brilliant Thoughts in a Box,” as described in this week’s Art Marketing Action newsletter. Here are the rules:

  1. You realize that you have a gift that you need to articulate to others. You recognize that you need words to do this.
  2. You capture your ideas as soon as you have them with whatever means (paper, computer, voice recorder) is available. That means you have to have at least one of these tools with you at all times. If you don’t do this, your ideas will end up sharing a space in history with 8-track tapes.
  3. Your Box isn’t sacred. It welcomes the imperfect into it. In fact, it is hungry for the imperfect. Feed it!
  4. You don’t edit. That’s for later. For now, you collect and everything is important.
  5. No one sees the box but you. It has to trust your secrecy.
  6. There are no rules.

Capturing your brilliant thoughts will help you with your statement and so much more for your marketing. How do you do this?

Share this post

Does your digital presence do justice to the quality of your art?

A comprehensive checklist to do a quick review of everywhere you show up online. FREE with opt-in.

13 thoughts on “Brilliant thoughts in a box”

  1. Thanks for another brilliant idea! I don’t journal, nor do I want to. I only use a sketch book when I have a fairly clear vision of what I want to create. What I NEED is a means to capture words, ideas, and concepts that I can explore further when the time is right. (The term “color field” has been ricocheting around my brain for a couple of weeks now.) A “Brilliant Ideas Box” may be the perfect solution for me!

  2. I would like everyone to go a couple of steps further in their art journaling. The written word isn’t the only way to capture ideas and thoughts. Splash color on that page, doodle a border, draw your breakfast, collage yourself in another land and cut out a window on a page to reveal a portion of the following page. Learn how to do all of this and more in Costa Rica! Connect. Expand. Learn. Action is the first step!

  3. Patricia Simoneau

    I learned a similar concept at a sales course I took last year. I love it, and I’ve tossed many notes into my “idea box” (recipe cards are great to have handy for quick notes). My challenge right now is this: I am in the midst of moving my office, and the box is buried under mountains of material. Meanwhile, I have ideas in notebooks of various shapes and sizes from one end of the house to the other… I have to corral them all and get them penned into the box! :o)

  4. I teach writing and have given journaling seminars because the act of journaling frees creativity. I agree with you that there is no right way to journal–no special book or method is the answer. Each person needs to find his or her own comfort zone. However, while a box is a good catch all for pieces of paper, scraps and scribblings, it won’t be useful unless those pieces are read, organized and expanded. The answer for those who want to try the box idea is, perhaps, is to regulary take the scraps and make a scrapbook, or artist’s journal. Take your words, ideas, illustrations, etc, and use them to create something just for fun! This is an especially useful exercise when you’re at a stuck phase or blocked period.

  5. Lately your articles have really reached out to me. I’ve moved home and studio this weekend and last night while stashing boxes in the loft space I found an old biscuit (cookie) tin. One of those tin ones with nostalgic Victorian images on it, though it looks to be from about the 60s really. I automatically through it in the new studio to find a use for and it would be a perfect treasure box for ‘brilliant thoughts’. Uncanny timing, thanks! 🙂

  6. What a great way to collect ramdom stray thoughts. I’m the only one I know who failed at “The Artist’s Way bcause I fumbled the journaling, then quit. Thanks!

  7. Alyson: This is a great idea. I have used the concept of an idea folder for years. I put all my scraps of papers, post it notes, pictures, articles, anything in there that will capture my idea for later. When I am ready for a new idea, I search through my idea folder. The reason I tell my clients that this is so valuable is because it isn’t possible to keep all our ideas in our heads, we will loose them, even the great ones, if we don’t someone capture them. The folder, or box, or even in a journal will help to keep the idea until we are ready to put it to use. Rachelle

  8. Not long ago I took a journaling class (I wrote about it here: ( ). I agree that each person has to find a way that works for him/her, but the idea of having different journals for different topics (which was the basis of the class) appealed to me. I always carry a small notebook with me to jot down random thoughts, grocery lists, ideas for the Great American Novel, etc. Were I doing what my class instructor suggested, when I got home, I would, for example, re-write the Great American Novel ideas into my Great American Novel Ideas journal. But I’m not that disciplined. What I do, which I find very helpful and which saves time, is rip the page out of my small notebook and glue-stick or scotch-tape the page into my Art Ideas journal, which sits on my worktable. All in all, very similar to the Brilliant Thoughts box. Clara

  9. Just got finished with a part of Twyla Tharp’s book where she talks about keeping a box for each of her dance creations collecting all of her research, thoughts, and ideas for each production. Great minds think alike!

  10. Alyson B. Stanfield

    All: Wow! I’m so glad this was helpful and appealing to so many of you. I’ve been on vacation all week and am feeling guilty that I haven’t captured everything. I usually like to write down my favorite meals–I’m talking everything that was in them. I use a notebook like a box. My notebook contains everything in it and I refuse to treat it as sacred. I’m using Moleskine, but I think a good old spiral notebook would feel less sacred.

  11. I’ve never been crazy about journaling. Sometimes the content seems to be full of my whining and not necessarily positive. I enjoy writing on my blog more and since I started blogging I now keep a running list of ideas in my journal for future blog entry topics. Friends and I recently visited the Joseph Cornell exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum. I was stunned at the written detail (hand and type) of his thought process for many of his collage projects. It was probably similar to your experience with Milton Avery’s journals. We may be more prolific with all the technology at hand but there really isn’t anything like seeing someone’s handwritten words.

  12. I always have great thoughts (well they always seem that way at night about 2/3 still seem to be great in the morning) in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. I use my phone as an alarm and the memo pad for writing down my sleep deprived ideas. It tends to work. If nothing else it lets me stop thinking about whatever it is and get some sleep.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

Are you presenting yourself in the most professional manner online?

Get The Artist’s
Online Presence Audit

48 places to check to make sure you are ready when someone runs into you online. Free with optin.

*You will also receive updates about new podcasts, blog posts, and programs. You can opt out at any time.

Privacy + Terms