Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Ideas on the Go

I’ve been honing my Story Radar, and have found the holiday season to be more abundant than ever with respect to prompting ideas.  The problem is, most of them come to me when I’m on the fly… and if I don’t document them immediately, by the time I get home they’ve gone. So I’ve been experimenting with ways to keep track of ideas on the go, and have come up with a short list of what works for me.

1)   Write them down the old fashioned way – This requires carrying a notebook with me at all times, which is sometimes challenging to remember to do, let alone find room for in my purse.  I love Moleskins, since they feel so writerly, but I’ve also used Miquelrius notebooks, which I like because they have spiral binding and stay open easily. And of course, we have spiral-bound notebooks with the Childrens Book Hub logo on the cover that are very nice, too.

Peter H. Reynolds mentioned in our interview this month that he always carries index cards in his pocket, to jot down ideas or make quick sketches on, and also to flesh out his ideas, because they allow for shuffling.

2)   Write them down digitally – I love my iPad, but again, it’s not always convenient to carry around with me. What is convenient is my iPhone – and the ‘Notes’ app works well for capturing ideas on the fly. However, it’s not easy to type anything that requires detail on the tiny iPhone screen.

3)   Record them – This is my latest favorite method. I have the free app “Dragon Dictation” installed on my iPhone (I have it on my iPad as well). All I have to do is tap the app to open it, and tap the red button to begin recording. I say as much as I need to, and hit save. This miraculous app instantly transcribes my words to text, and it’s accurate about 90% of the time. One more tap and I’ve emailed the document to myself. When I get home and open my computer, the emailed idea is there, ready for me to edit, embellish or simply drag-and-drop it into the ideas folder on my desktop.

How do you capture your ideas?


8 Responses to “Ideas on the Go”
  1. Beth says:

    I, too, come up with my best ideas when I’m out doing things (or in the shower — apparently that was one of Einstein’s most creative places as well, according to Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way). She says that activities such as driving a car, or showering, are artist-brain activities. Okay — those are also activities that make taking notes rather tricky. Quite often, if a story idea occurs in these instances, I work on the idea, and repeat the thoughts and phrases in my mind as I drive, or as I rinse. That isn’t always effective.

    I have a notebook and pen on the passenger seat of my car (I don’t often have passengers), but I rarely remember to use it! I have numerous Moleskin notebooks… scattered around the apartment, but rarely in my purse when I am looking for one.

    I, too, have tried using my iPod for jotting notes on the notepad, but that isn’t optimal (and my phone, alas, isn’t an iPhone, and has one of those totally frustrating typing pads in which one must click through the letters mno to get to “o” for example.

    I must see if there is a Dragon Dictation or similar app for the iPod.

    I see a New Year’s goal in this… There will be a goal post… I mean a post about my goals for the year… on my blog on December 31st. Finding a way to capture those ideas that come at the most inconvenient moments will be on it. Thanks for jogging my memory about needing to jog my memory!

  2. jan says:

    i love your ideas! i don’t have anything that technical, so i use an old fashioned notebook but a waterproof one as i am always setting the notebook down by the pond, the well or in the rain and this way i can have my ideas even if they are all wet!

  3. Priscilla Rogers says:

    I, too carry a notebook with me every where I go. Most of my ideas come during the night, and if I don’t write them down immediately, by morning they are gone. Even in church ideas come, and out comes my notebook.(Shame) This is a great article, and yes, writing down things as they come to mind does help.

  4. I love my iPad, and carry it everywhere, but, an iPhone is next on my list, and certainly more portable!

  5. I use the same three. I love Dragon Dictation. That’s made a huge difference!

  6. Beth says:

    P.S. I’ve just downloaded Dragon Dictation to my iPod. Thanks for the suggestion! I think it will be a very useful tool. (Even though, as you said, it is a bit creative with the way it “translates” the spoken word to the written text at times.)

  7. Diane says:

    I never heard of Dragon Dictation, how cool. I usually miss out on my ideas as yes they come when I am driving and since now I can spend anything between 1 – 3 hours driving during peak traffic to and from work, daily *sigh* (change in shops), I am usually too tired to try and remember what they were by the time I get home. I usually use just a notebook, but the Dragon Dictation might be a worthwhile venture, another tool to learn to use on my iphone. Thanks Emma!

  8. Thanks for your ideas over capture ideas Emma! For people who doesn’t have an ipad or iphone (like me), most of the other (older, not smart) phones and also mp3-players (like the ipod) have a record function and sometimes a note function. I use them to capture my ideas on the go! When I’m at home or office, I transfer them (unfortunately you can’t always automatic synchronize them, so don’t forget to do this step) to Evernote (a really good note program, also available for mobile).

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