Do not hoard ideas

Holding on to a lot of ideas takes a great deal of time and energy. If, like me, you’re a systems person you can make things much worse. I can build personal knowledge systems, slipboxes, databases, custom software and bend all sorts of technology into new shapes. It turns out—as I hope you’ve already guessed—that if you have too many ideas, and then build and deploy a bunch of clever tools and systems, you just end up with even more ideas. (There isn’t quite an XKCD for that, but number 927 is close.)

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.

~ Annie Dillard from,


Building tools and systems is also a terrific way to hide. It’s a variation of the old idea that I cannot start on the real work until I get all this other stuff organized and cleaned up and set up and just so.

Instead, I’m so much happier if I simply take something that brings me joy, and share it.