1. draupnir
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    draupnir Member

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    Unbidden Ideas

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by draupnir, Aug 10, 2008.

    What do you do when you're out and about, doing something completely not writing related, maybe with friends of family, and then you get inspiration/an idea that you know is a good one?

    Some writers say 'always carry a little notepad around with you' for when that happens, because if a phrase or whatever gets away it won't come back. But i'm really bad at doing that, I always forget. And anyway it might not be practical to just write stuff down in the middle of a meal, for example.

    So do you have to hold it in your head? That's what I do most often, but that might ruin your trip out if you're chanting an idea to yourself constantly...

    Anyone else have this problem, or do you not tend to get 'unbidden' ideas?! And if you forget them, which is intensely annoying, do you tend to remember them in the end?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I write on my arm. I lose notebooks, but to date I've never mislaid my skin. And yes, inspiration always strikes me at the worst possible moments. Someone up there has one hell of a sense of humour.
     
  3. Jade
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    Jade Active Member

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    I also write things on myself. On my hand mostly. I don't write the whole idea, just words that I know will trigger my memory later.
     
  4. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    I just try to store it in my head. If it stays there then great, if it doesn't then I try not to beat myself up about it. It's only a idea. That's just the way I work.
     
  5. TBrennan
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    TBrennan Member

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    Sometimes I type stuff on my mobile phone as a text message and I save it, but the best thing is my PDA I use that if I'm in awkward places and I just type my idea down on it and save it.

    TB
     
  6. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I hate to be the bringer of bad news but...

    You are going to have to find a method that will work for you.

    If notepads don't do it, try sharpie markers (tm), try recording devices, TBrennen said he types on his mobile phone.

    You could try wearing a white t-shirt and write on that, wear a fanny back, get pocketbook, palm pilot.

    Just try to remember it, is always a fun one.

    I just try to remember it.
     
  7. Daisy
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    Daisy New Member

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    When I'm out and that happens to me I usually can't let go of the idea even if I tried, because my mind keeps going back to it all through the night with thoughts on how to expand on it. When this happens, my friends will nudge me and say "Are you listening?" which of course I'm not. I don't know how they put up with me sometimes.

    So I guess I"m like Ungood, I just try to remember it.
     
  8. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Same here, and it becomes even easier because I get many of my ideas from some music. That way, I have it associated with something, and every time I listen to the song the scene keeps playing back in my head with different variations.

    I really should start carrying something to write on, or at least a pen.
     
  9. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    When I'm out, I always get ideas since my ideas come from nature. Thankfully, when I forget an idea, I just look at some nature scene and the idea comes back, usually with even more.
     
  10. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Most of my ideas concern characters and storylines I already have going, so it's hard for me to forget something once it pops up. I also tend to mull over ideas for a long time before actually writing them so that's another thing; as someone else mentioned, the idea won't go away so I ponder it for quite a while. In any other case, if I feel I might forget it, I guess I'd just write it down in a note.

    That's really all I can say. You can either take down a note (on paper or recorder or however), no matter how inconvenient it might be to do it in the middle of things, or you can try keeping the idea in your head and risk forgetting it. Unless you have a super memory there's really nothing else one can do; there's no secret technique aside from taking note or remembering somehow.
     
  11. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    If it is one of the few times that I don't have my messenger bag with me (which is generally only for black tie events or funerals) and I don't have a smaller notepad, then I excuse myself to the ladies room, use my cell phone to call my home phone and leave enough of a message on the answering machine to capture the idea.
     
  12. draupnir
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    draupnir Member

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    I've done that before; that and calling your answering machine are pretty good ideas I think! I've also sometimes written a well chosen word on my hand to jog my memory, if i've got a pen.

    That's lucky, I'm definitely not like that!

    Nice to see such a variety of methods! Bcuz it's very lame if you forget something you thought was good. Although at the end of the day I spose you have to think, if it was that important, you would remember it!
     
  13. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I keep a plentiful supply of SBE's spread in all the places that I frequent. (Strategic Brain Extenders) Here is a partial list of my SBE's:

    - Note pads located at work, home (multiple locations including: bedside stand, living room end table, both bathrooms and garage), car, brief case, guitar effects pedal case, truck, inside the open back on my amps, boat and garage. Yes, I keep a pen of pencil waith each pad.

    - In addition, I carry a small Post-it pad in my brief case for making quick note while I am traveling. I also use napkins in restaurants or the back of my hand, if necessary. I have never sent myself a text message but that's a great idea (thanks TBrennan).

    - For larger ideas, or thoughts that present while driving, I use a micro cassette tape recorder.

    - While writing, I open a separate MS Word page titled "random ideas" and keep it minimized at the bottom of the screen. ANY special ideas that pop up get recorded there and I review that file from time to time looking for gold nuggets.

    Like everybody said above, I feel it is important for writers to capture every moment that might mean the difference between a good idea and a great idea. And, I don't trust my memory . . . maybe that's just an old-guy thing, but it's my reality.
     
  14. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I just try to hold on. I figure the really good ideas will stay, and the so so ones will fall away. I consider it my filter.
     
  15. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    I usually have a small notepad stuffed in my coat pocket.
    One time, when I was without my "handy-dandy notebook", it was toilet paper and a borrowed pen for me.

    Summer's are a bit tough due to the heat. I carry a tote bag then.

    My brain is a good memory retainer though. I can recall whole conversations at times, which is pretty useful for writing and holding grudges, lol.
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Unbidden ideas = Gifts from the Muses!

    They are actually quite generous, you just have to know when a gift is a gift. :D
     
  17. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    I really just promise myself to keep the idea in my head. Sometimes it's not such a good idea, because I tend to forget things, but usually if it's something really noteworthy I'll remember. I just couldn't manage to carry a little notepad with me everywhere I go, I'd lose the notepad. Then, I'd be mortified if anyone I know found said notepad and returned it to me, lol. You know they would have flipped through it. I used to have a notebook with doodles and patches of writing in it in high school; I'd break it out in all of my boring classes, and once I left it behind class to have my Algebra II teacher find it. It was an awkward moment when she returned it to me. After that, I decided I would just keep the ideas in my head. :)
     
  18. Saffron
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    A lot of my ideas come to me as I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Of course, I then have to get up, turn on the light, scribble it down... sometimes this can happen two or three times a night! I'm always scared I'll have forgotten it by morning.

    When unbidden ideas hit me at any other time (e.g. when I'm on the bus), I'm usually pretty good at remembering them.
     
  19. penhobby
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    penhobby Contributing Member

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    A good idea, no matter when it comes, affects me in an emotional way. I get excited and I can think of nothing else. So forgetting the idea isn't really a problem for me. I have a great memory. If I am home, I will stop whatever I am doing and go write. This makes my husband crazy. Sometimes in mid conversation, I will jump up and run to my laptop with him shouting as I go. ‘Really? Right now?’ I can’t help it. :redface:

    However, my husband just spent three days in the hospital, and I didn't have a computer, but I had strong emotional feelings that needed to get out. Good thing the gift shop sold writing journals.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Extra business cards in my wallet, and I always have a pen on me. But I usually have my laptop next to me, so I rarely need to jot down notes on business cards.
     
  21. Ryo-Heart
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    Ryo-Heart Member

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    I normally write it down on paper, but yea I get idea's out of the blue all the time lol
     
  22. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    I never have a notepad handy when I'm out and about (although I have learned to keep a pad and pen beside my bed, for those late night inspirations). Sometimes I drag a little paper receipt or a napkin or whatever out of my purse though, and scribble down short notes on that.

    Most often though, I just keep replaying the idea in my mind over and over, trying to get a permanent grip on it until I can get home and record it. I've lost a lot of good ideas to a faulty memory that way. *Grimaces*
     
  23. Alexa
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    Alexa Member

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    I've never actually considered bringing a notepad or anything of that sort when I'm out..I probably should though! When I do come up with ideas I kind of replay it in my head for awhile and hope it sticks..but if I had come up with a certain idea in a sentence I'd end up losing it by the time I returned home. I have a horrible memory.
     
  24. yaar
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    yaar New Member

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    Normally, I get ideas for stories all the time. I generally latch on to some key phrase, some description or anecdote that I particularly feel pulls the piece together or just stands out, and remember that. I remember several of these, and it's really easy for me to remember and write out what comes between them.
     
  25. biddy
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    biddy Member

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    I've taken to wearing trousers with cargo pockets on the legs, so I always have somewhere to keep my little red notebook and pen!

    I have to agree with an earlier comment - I'd hate someone to find it and have a shuftie through it...

    biddy.
     

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