I think I can honestly say that I’ve never really had an idea while sitting at a desk.
Well, okay. There have been times when I’ve been in the process of writing and things have developed or changed as I was typing, so I suppose that happened at the desk. But, the point I’m making here is that for me and many others like me, inspiration doesn’t come while we’re at the computer.
Oh, no. It comes at the most inconvenient of times. While I’m picking up the dog poo in my yard, in the middle of a seven hour drive, when I’m up to my elbows in dish water, walking my dogs/kids to the park, and of course, while I’m trying to sleep.
It doesn’t help that I’m an introvert and sometimes need solitude to process my own life, let alone the lives of my characters. I’ve been known to go hop in the shower with the music blaring when I need to work something through in my head (personal or professional.)
In fact, my biggest recommendation to anyone seeking inspiration is to get up and do something. Get away from your desk! Now, I know there is a time to sit and focus and write. But, I believe that the best ideas come when you’re away from your workspace.
The problem is that these are never ideal times to take notes. So here are my...
4 Tips for Capturing Your Ideas When You’re On-the-Go
1. Always have a notebook.
Congratulations! You’re a writer. Now, your notebook is your conjoined twin! I throw one in my backpack for walking trips around town. I take one in my car on road trips. I keep tiny notebooks and a pen in my purse. Why not? There are some seriously cute stationary products out there. And the nice thing is that a notebook won’t ever run out of battery.
Also, if you’re into technology (and you probably should be) you can check out Rocketbook or the Livescribe pen by Moleskin. These amazing pens and notebooks transfer what you write with/in them to the computer. (I've never tried either but they may be worth it for you!)
2. Get an app.
If you’ve got a smart phone, you should have a good note-taking app. I use both Google Keep and Evernote. (Keep is mostly for my personal stuff like shopping lists I share with my husband.) Both of these programs allow you to have your notes on your phone, computer, and tablet, so your info is always accessible and safe. Get the app and learn its features so it can work for you.
I love Evernote’s photo capture feature that allows you take a photo of something you’ve handwritten and save it (as a pic or a doc) with all your typed-in notes.
3. Get a voice recorder.
Now, if you have a smartphone, there are tons of voice recorder apps you can download. Keep and Evernote both have built-in recorders, though I’ll admit that some of the others are quicker and easier to access than either of those. You can program Google, Siri, or Cortana to open the recorder for you without needing to touch your phone. But, if you don’t have a smartphone, you can buy a handheld recorder for as little as $20. They’re small and convenient and also great if you leave your phone at home a lot. (Some people do, believe it or not!)
This is perhaps my favorite of all my tips, because I use it constantly. I use it while I’m driving. (This is where voice activation comes in handy. Be Safe!) I use it out on walks. (Bonus: You can hold your phone up and pretend you’re talking to someone and people won’t think you’re crazy. Probably.) I also use it to iron out dialogue or just talk through plot points because sometimes my rambling produces a couple of gems I can use later.
4. Use the above in a timely fashion!
Seriously. None of those things works if you don’t jot down your ideas before you forget them. Now, if you’re in the shower, don’t kill your phone by using the recorder right then. But as soon as you’re dry, record your thought! Don’t try to jot down your notes in traffic. Wait until you can safely pull over to write down that genius bit of dialogue. But, don’t wait too long or life will intervene and you’ll forget your inspiration. I swear this will happen. It has happened to me too many times and it’s always heartbreaking.
For a list of the top technical writing tools that might also help in your creative endeavors, check out this article on Instrktiv: https://instrktiv.com/en/technical-writing-tools/
Well, that’s that. I hope my 4 tips for capturing your ideas on-the-go are helpful to you.
What methods do you use?