Thursday, September 27, 2012

Write it Down

Here is the only piece of writing advice that I've ever really followed. And, if I haven't, I've usually regretted it: 

Carry a notebook and a pen. 



Seriously. Because you know that time you're at the shops and you overhear an intriguing piece of dialogue that might spark an idea? By the time you've paid for your groceries, put your card back in the wrong place in your purse, panicked that you've lost it, found it again and then got into your car and driven halfway home before you realised you've forgotten to buy milk...that dialogue is gone for good. 

Write it down. 

In the era of smart phones, you won't even look like a stalker while doing it. Copying your conversation down word for word? Certainly not. I'm texting my friends, of whom I have many, thanks for asking. 

What about that great idea you have at three o'clock in the morning when you suddenly break free from a crazy dream? Sure, it might not look so good in the cold hard light of day, but how will you know unless you remember it? 

Write it down. 

In the morning, if that note says OMG shoes with zippers then what have you lost? 

I have a few notebooks on the go, as well as a gazillion tiny bits of paper floating around. Pages in my notebooks include Slang I Like, Titles That Have No Stories Yet, Interesting Names, Brainstorming, and Work Quotes. 

This is from Work Quotes

We're on the hill, the man said, and we look down on our neighbours. 
I could tell that was true from the tone of his voice. 

Also: 

That person could be your soulmate. 
I thought you said cellmate. 

And: 

Sancrosant. This word does not annoy me. 

But in the middle of all the useless stuff are chapter plans, ideas for new stories, ideas for improving old stories, and the bare bones of plots that are just waiting to be built on. 

Carry a notebook. Write stuff down. You'll be surprised what turns out to be useful. 

*** 
Do you take notes? 

12 comments:

  1. I keep a notebook by the bed for this reason. I'm always thinking up stuff just before I fall asleep. And if I ever get in the car and have forgotten a pen or notebook, I have a freak out. I'll start digging through the glove box for napkins to write on just in case. I CAN write notes on my phone, or even use the voice recording on it, but that's an act of complete desperation.

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    1. Oh, paper definitely works the best. I don't know why that is...

      I'm glad I'm not the only one that has a minor panic if I'm caught without a notebook.

      Delete
  2. I heartily endorse having something with which to record ideas when you're out in the world.

    At the least, I always have a pen with me.
    I posted about observing people (or using their dialogue) to gather data for future use in writing. Remember to be circumspect, people seem to sense when someone's looking over their shoulder.

    Enjoyed this post!

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    1. I love eavesdropping on conversations...but it's absolutely a delicate thing to do. Public transport is fantastic, because then it doesn't look like you're stalking them!

      Delete
  3. I don't have a smart phone, don't really want one... but it would make it a lot easier to remember my notepad & pen ;) I always forget them.

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    1. I hate it when you've got a great idea and no way to transcribe it. In your case I'd even consider phoning someone "Quick, write this down!"

      Delete
  4. Best advice ever! I carry a notebook everywhere, all the time. Some of my most brilliant lines come to me out of the blue.

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    1. It's amazing what just hits you sometimes, isn't it? And amazing how whenever it happens you think, "Oh, I'll totally remember that" then...nothing. I've learned the hard way to always carry a notebook.

      Delete
  5. I once had such a dramatic, suspenseful, waking-up-with-the-sweats dream that I hastily scrawled out every detail I could, sure it would be the next Speilberg production.

    In the morning, all I could make out was something about "giant robot gorillas."

    Now I got a digital recorder, which is much safer for driving, and with dreams I get a bunch of mumbles and heavy breathing.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Lol! I'll bet your giant robot gorilla could still make a great movie. Michael Bay would probably make it. There would be lots of explosions.

      I don't think I could work a digital recorder in the middle of the night.

      Delete
  6. I have trouble writing anything down until I can stop and think about it - just the way my mind works - so a notebook probably wouldn't get used. I've often wondered about a recorder though, because I play out whole chunks of dialogue while cycling to work and have to do battle with my memory to recreate it later.

    BTW - I tagged you over on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Botanist!

      I think a recorder might definitely work for you. I'm totally the opposite -- if I don't write it down straight away, it's gone.

      Delete

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