Times when it is next to impossible to record those thoughts and ideas save repeating them over and over and over until they are burned deep into my memory.
Which is fine unless they are bad ideas which you can then just never forget. Far easier to carry a notebook. Or get used to using your phone as a note book.
This is such a famous piece of advice and such a good piece of advice too. British artist David Hockney apparently had all his suits tailored with an extra big inside pocket so that he could ALWAYS have his sketchpad handy…. He never wanted to miss a moment that might become a painting, that could kick start a new idea.
As a writer, you need to be thinking like this as well. The world flickers by our eyes in a moment. One fleeting thought erased by the next rapidly approaching, then receding, idea. If you don’t take a moment to pause, record and reflect, your ideas will be as evanescent as the morning news: Heard, but forgotten.
The notebook is the best way to remind yourself where you have come from… by showing you ideas you once thought were brilliant that you later realised were just cheap knockoffs. By reminding you of truly amazing one-line thoughts that become fantastic poems/songs/short stories or even books. It tracks you, keeps you honest, reminds and inspires you.
A lot of writers don’t like to keep their notes… reminders of things gone wrong, failures and mis-cues. But I feel this is to misrepresent what goes on in a notebook. It’s like an archive of never ending giving. Maybe you just don’t have the vocabulary to unpack an idea today. Maybe you will in the future. Why throw it away just because this attempt failed? That’s no reflection on the idea, just on the execution.
A notebook is also like a gym for your mind and your writing voice. It’s the place where you can put in the hard hours of practice, experimentation and training. There are no consequences there save getting more writing down, more technique perfected. No-one ever need see a notebook but you. A notebook can be whipped out on a bus, waiting for a meeting, watching the kettle boil. All things can be reflected on.
Just as one day you woke up and decided to actually give this writing thing a proper go, to actually put in the hours, so too one day will you find this collection of ideas and pick one that suddenly makes sense, that can suddenly clearly be unpacked.