Keep a Little Notebook with You for When You Have Ideas (or, You Can Take it With You)

Most sources from even a few years ago suggest that we writers carry around a little notebook for those ephemeral ideas that fleet into our heads while walking or sleeping. While that advice still has merit, the medium may be changing for writers.

Telephones have voice recorders now that allow you to dictate your thoughts on the run. Whenever I’m driving down the Interstate (after carefully checking the traffic), I may dictate a note to myself about an idea I’ve had. They seem to come at odd moments when I’m not thinking about anything. This is not about the creative use of odd moments, its about capturing creative ideas that come at odd moments.

Likewise, many tablets have the same functionality.

If I am stationary, I use the notes function on my tablet or phone. It still looks like a ruled yellow pad. I have an Apple phone, so I can also use Siri to record a note by saying, “Siri, take a note.” Siri asks me what my note is and I dictate it. Later I can say, “Siri, read my note(s) and it will read them back one at a time.

There is a new feature in this vein for PC users who have downloaded iCloud to their computers. You can take documents on the PC and click and drag them to iCloud software apps. When you click on them in the app, you can see the document. I find this useful when I’m putting together an outline for a story, though I don’t like writing a full story on a tablet as its keyboard is too small.

When I am sitting somewhere with nothing to do, instead of picking up a magazine, I open the document on my tablet and edit it. Once I get home, I email it back to myself and download it copying over the original to bring it up to date.

So, instead of the notebook with you at all times, including when you’re sleeping at night, use your phone and tablet.