Five Great Tips To Capture Each Spark of Inspiration
We’ve all done it. You’re lying in bed, all wrapped up and cosy when you’re hit with the most brilliant idea for a piece of writing. Plotlines and characters unravel themselves before you like a beautifully woven quilt and, as you dwell on the brink of sleep, you have to make the decision: do you get up and write it down or do you hope to remember it in the morning?
You waver before shutting your eyes and drifting off, smug in the knowledge that you’ve struck writing gold. That’s until you wake up the next day only to realise that you can’t remember a single thing about the masterpiece you’d envisioned.
Ideas can be a bit like lightning- bright and powerful but quick to slip out of reach if you don’t have the right equipment to harness it. They can come from anywhere- the shower, a bus ride, even a random interaction, but if you don’t capture the magic, life will sweep it right out of your hands.
So, how do you catch these ideas? How do you stop yourself from forgetting? Here are some ways to make sure you never forget a story idea again.
1) Notepads. Notepads everywhere.
Have one by your bed. Have one on your desk. Have one in your bag. I mean everywhere. Make sure notepads (or sticky note pads) are within reach whether you’re at home, at work or out and about, which brings me to…
2) Pens, preferably ones that work
A notepad will only get your so far if you have nothing to write on it with. Make sure to have numerous pens with your notepads and, unless you feel like doing some engraving, make sure those pens have ink and work. By having multiple pens, you improve your chances of getting your hands on a one in a hurry as well as having a few backups should one of your pens run dry.
Biros not your style? Why not follow Margaret Atwood’s advice on using a pencil?
3) Note-taking apps
Are paper and pen not practical? If you’re on the go, it’s not always easy to carry around a notebook, especially if it’s big or heavy. Thankfully, for those of use with smartphones, we now have access to a wide range of note-taking apps including Samsung Notes, Apple Notes, Evernote and more. (Here are lists of apps for iPhones and Android devices). If you’re stuck in a queue or cramped on some public transport and inspiration strikes, you can simply get out your phone and jot down all of your ideas to read or write up later.
4) Voice memos
You might not want to try this method if you’re out in public, but it can be a handy way to organise your thoughts or explore an idea without trying to decipher messy handwriting. Voice memos can work well if you’re half asleep, in the middle of something important or want to preserve a bit of natural-sounding dialogue.
5) Build associations
If you’ve had a great idea but it’s short and fleeting, try to associate it with a motion that you often repeat to bring it to the forefront of your mind. Maybe you brush the top of your nose over and over whilst repeating a character name or touching the frame of your glasses whilst reciting a brief detail like ‘Michael has a dog’. Unfortunately, this method is far from foolproof but if you learn or remember through action, it can be a useful short-term solution.
6) Sing it!
Your hands are full, there is no way you can write down your idea but you don’t want to risk losing it. It’s time to use those pipes and sing out your idea! You can either sing a random melody or, for added effect, sing to the tune of a well-known song such as ‘bad to the bone’. You may need to sing your idea a few times to get it into your head, but it can be a useful trick to keep it in the forefront of your mind before you get the chance to write it down. Just don’t try to belt out a tune before bed. Not only might the people you live with have some complaints, but chances are you’ll still lose the idea by the time morning comes around!
7) Tell someone
Yes, you might sound very bizarre. Yes, it might be embarrassing, but if you’re desperate to hold onto an idea but need to concentrate fully, say whilst driving, you’re going to have to tell someone so they can hold it for you. It might be a passenger or a friend, but if you share some details, they can help refresh your memory later. It’s a last resort but, for the sake of safety, an important one.
How do you remember your writing ideas? Do you have any tips? Share them below.