I’ve heard people say that if you’re an author, you should always carry a notepad and pen with you wherever you go, just in case you get an idea. They say that if you don’t write it down straight away, you’ll forget it. And it will be gone. Forever.
I totally agree. For most of us, our memories just aren’t that good.
I have been in a situation where I couldn’t write down an idea and sometimes I’d remember it later, but there are some ideas that are still floating out there in the ether that I may never recall again.
I have a notepad in my handbag and one in my bedside drawer. I often get ideas just as I’m drifting off to sleep and I used to pull out my notepad and pen and scribble it down before I forgot it. This was before I got a smartphone. And while I was still married. I didn’t want to disturb my husband, so I’d actually write in darkness. I’d fold down the corner of the page once I’d written on it, so I wouldn’t write over the top of a previous idea next time. It would be really messy, but I could always make out what I’d written and rewrite it on my computer later.
Once I finally upgraded to a smartphone, I used the Notes or Memo app to write with. This made life easier. I just rewrite my ideas into a Word document. I tried a word processor app on my old Android phone, which I could easily transfer to my computer, but the word wrap didn’t work properly and I found that I had to open a fresh Word document and retype in into there just to avoid the problem. Now I just skip all the hassle and just put my iPhone in front of my computer and retype what I’ve written.
My ideas can range from just a single thing that I thought of to a 20 page beginning of a first draft. I write down everything. You never know what you can use. Some of the singular ideas I’ve put together in a folder to be used in the one novel. Some of them have so much info or so much written that they have their own folder and with some I’ve even thought of a name for the story.
One thing I love doing is writing the date that I thought of the idea. I don’t know why. When I look back at them, I like to see when I thought of the idea. Sometimes I’ll think of something to add to the idea and I’ll put the date and write the new info.
There are other apps or programs you can use to record your ideas. There might be a different app you are using for notes. Some people write it in an email and send it to themselves. There are writing apps for your phone or tablet to help you organise your ideas. You may be happy with Word, or you may use Scrivener or an online program. Personally, I’m not comfortable with putting every single idea of mine into an online program. That means that someone has everything of mine. Every single idea. I know they’re not supposed to look at your stuff because they’re just holding your info, but it’s too much of a risk for me. Call me paranoid.
Another point on writing down your ideas; it is entirely up to you how you go about it, or if you do it at all. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. You can write a comment down below if you have a great method that I haven’t heard about.
I’ve heard Stephen King talk about authors’ notebooks and he says that that idea is stupid. He says that authors fill them with garbage ideas. He says that the good ideas stick around. If an idea keeps popping up in his head, he pays attention and starts to develop the story from there. But my mind doesn’t work that way. I can’t do that. I’ll lose too much. We can’t all be geniuses like Mr King.
He doesn’t even outline his novels. But most people need to. I need to. I tried working without one, just writing what I felt like, but it took a loooong time to get anywhere and I kept hitting a wall and getting writers’ block. It is not a fun way to write like I thought it would be. It took years longer to write my first book.
I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Let me know in the comments.
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