Great Ideas: It’s easy to lose them, so don’t.

Grahame Green, the famous English novelist, was in many ways an inspiration for many writers. Dare I say, bloggers, too. For me, he was an inspiration: he was reputed to keep a journal near his bedside so he could write down many of his ideas, some of which would work their way into his novels. I don’t know if this is true or not, a couple of cursory searches indicated that it was not.

Whether or not it is true, it highlights a problem I’ve been having recently: keeping a track of those flashes of insight, ideas for posts, quotes, and other memes that come to me, as the muse does. Whenever I have one of those flashes of optimism, I really try hard to remember it so I can use it in a post later in that day.

The sad thing is: I then sit down to blog about those very topics, only to find that the ideas are evanescent as the warm winds of September in Taiwan. What am I to do?

So I have adopted several means to help record them: I’ll use email to send notes to myself, it’s easy to open, and create, and save. If a computer is not available, then I’ll keep some notes in my little notebook, small enough to fit inside my own wallet. If not, I’ll find scraps of paper to write down whatever I need to remember. Then I’ll collate the notes into titles or first sentences, and save them in my blog.

The result can be quite effective, but if not done properly, it will fill up notebooks/wordpress with numerous headers. These are easily recovered but making sense of them later is often a challenge, especially when the original mood is gone.

For example, I wrote a long half post about frustrations dealing with our photocopy company, then I saved it. A month later, the original mood is gone, facts are half-remembered, and I wonder if I will ever write it. At least I have the basics that I could write or re-write as needed. If I didn’t have these, I wouldn’t have the choice to develop the post or not.

So, if you are stuck for ideas: remember – your best ideas will often come to you at very odd times. Find a way to take some notes so that you will have a list of topics that you can write about when things are a little dry.

Should I blog about my own finances?

One of the reasons I set up my blog on DollarTravels was to encourage me to put more effort into my financial life. While I’ve been very succesful as a blogger, and earned not a small amount of money!, I haven’t really posted any personal financial details on any of the blogs I write before. I do share my credit card spending from month to month, but I don’t share my expenses, my cashflow or my investment holdings at all.

I’ve already settled part of this discussion in my mind: I’m resolved to start posting my investment holdings at some point, but my own financial situation: somehow that seems like a whole new ballgame.

Privacy: is it that important?

Unlike Flexo who writes fairly anonymously, a lot of people in Taiwan actually know me, and they know where I live and work. So this would be highly personal reporting and attributable to some they know. I’m not yet convinced that this is a good thing. An article in Business Week that featured another Money Blog actually has a source that is attributable, known and trackable. I don’t know if this is something I would like to be. Part of me urges caution, part of me wants to celebrate success and share failure with EVERYONE! I’m torn.

Breaking Taboos

Coming from Britain, where I grew up and with friends, personal financial details were rarely shared amongst even the closest relatives. We were brought up such that you didn’t talk about death, sex, politics, religion, health, and money! While some of these seem obviously inappropriate at certain times, such proscription seems so intolerable that it’s a wonder anyone was able to learn anything about any of these sensitive topics. So for me to discuss some aspects of our financial situation, it’s definitely running counter to my experience as a child or younger person.

The Power of the External

Having seen my blog help me focus my mind more on generation money through the number of routes that I choose, I can see how having an external pressure, a barometer, an audience, etc.. can help me keep on the straight and narrow. Perhaps it will stop me splurging on a third 28″ monitor or a brand new BMW when I can ill afford, perhaps not. Even the failures will provide a good lesson: I’m ever hopeful that our ‘shared experience’ online will help others develop their own self-discipline, goals and means, even when I have demonstrably failed.

So what should I do? Reveal ALL my personal financials, lift the veil on some of finances (e.g. Net Worth and Investments), or keep them away from prying eyes? Comment your answer if you dare. I’ll be making a decision by September 1st. I’d like to say that some from my audience helped me gain perspective whichever outcome I decide.

How many hours did you work last week?

Well, I was in Page One bookstore in Taipei 101 last weekend, when I decided to purchase Tim Ferris’ book the Four Hour WorkWeek. It didn’t take long to get through the contents, but has heartened me to continue my own struggle with creating passive income. It’s a good read, and one that I have added to my own library.