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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Use it or Lose it AKA write it down!

   
Author Topic: Use it or Lose it AKA write it down!
axeminister
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I'd like this post to serve as a reminder to everyone that if you have an idea, a character, a setting, a dream, anything new and original, you should write it down - now.

Hence the expression, "right now."

I've got this idea for my WotF Q3. Last Saturday it popped in my head, and for the past week I've thought about the opening scene a dozen times. Even gone so far as to concentrate and "write" the first few paragraphs in my mind - several times.

Because I'm going over the same territory, I'm not thinking further into the story. I just keep spinning my wheels.

(Oh, and one of my openings was absolutely BRILLIANT! but I didn't write it down, so POOF - gone.)

So why haven't I taken the 5 stinkin minutes to type the opening? (iPhone, notepad, sticky note, cave wall) Because I'm working on other stories... (Editing, critiquing, sending to markets.)

Five minutes.
That's all my story is asking of me.
Just write the first scene, then - File, Save As, "WotF-Q3".

So, now that I've long windedly reminded everyone to just go ahead and tap out that idea, I shall do no less.

Five minutes from now I'll have the start of my next story written out, and the next time I think about it, I'll ask myself "What happens next?" because I won't have to spend mental energy remembering what happens first.

Axe

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pdblake
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Feel better now? [Big Grin]
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angel011
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If I can't remember them later, they usually weren't that good anyway.

But hey, that's just me. [Smile]

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genevive42
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I have dry erase boards and note pads everywhere, even the bathroom. When I cleaned my desk recently I had an entire stack of little scribbled notes for bits of dialog or scene structure or story ideas, many on stolen scraps of paper. I made sure I had them logged properly before I destroyed the originals. And many a time I've used the voice recorder on my phone/ipod to take a note while I was driving.

So yes, make notes, keep notes don't let those ideas get away. Even if they're not brilliant in their original form, they could spark all kinds of something new.

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Robert Nowall
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I'll often have a vivid dream or some great idea, but inside a couple hours, if I haven't written it down, it's faded.

But I'm also a devotee of the theory that if an idea is any good, you won't have any trouble remembering it.

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Natej11
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Usually I completely agree with this notion, but lately I've been working through scenes as I drift off to sleep, and then when I wake up I sit down and write them out. They might not be exactly like I had them the night before, but close enough.

It's also nice not to have to get up, turn on my computer, and spend ten minutes writing right when I'm starting to fall asleep. I have trouble getting to sleep anyway and interruptions make it harder.

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genevive42
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I have a notebook and pen next to my bed for those sleepy alpha state inspirations. Then I don't have to boot up the computer.
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Owasm
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I have a full slot of ideas on my desk in my paper trays. Perhaps too many. I'll never use them all. I did write down a scene that I dreamed of last night.

I guess if one wants to be organized, you can go through them and throw away those that don't make sense to you anymore.

I'm not of the opinion that if you can't remember it, it isn't any good. Dreams are very perishable good or bad. They can act as great triggers.

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JenniferHicks
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Good advice, Axe.

I woke up at 4 a.m. last night with the next 100+ words to my WIP laid out perfectly in my head. I grabbed my notebook and pen, ran into the bathroom where I wouldn't disturb my husband, and got it all down before it disappeared. This morning, I transcribed it onto the laptop, added a bit more, and had 200 words written before breakfast. I wish all mornings were like that.

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angel011
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Kim Newman said: never throw anything away, you don't know when it will come handy. Some ideas he had while very young certainly served him well much later.

On the other hand, there's this anecdote Alfred Hitchcock told: a young writer wakes up in the middle of the night, has a brilliant idea, then falls asleep, and doesn't remember it in the morning. He remembers waking up and having this absolutely great idea, but doesn't have a clue as to what it was. The next night, the same thing happens. And the next one. And the night after that. He's starting to get desperate. Finally, he remembers to put a notebook and a pen next to his bed. Once again, he wakes up in the middle of the night with this brilliant idea. He writes it down and happily falls asleep. In the morning, he wakes up, remembers having the idea, can't remember the idea itself, starts to despair again, then remembers the notebook. He's extremely happy, his great idea is finally not lost like the every other morning, he'll be able to use it, it's great! He looks at the notebook.

His idea is: a boy falls in love with a girl. [Big Grin]

P.S. I do write some of my ideas down, I just try not to get too excited over the ones I don't write down and forget. [Smile]

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Tiergan
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quote:
Originally posted by JenniferHicks:
Good advice, Axe.

I woke up at 4 a.m. last night with the next 100+ words to my WIP laid out perfectly in my head. I grabbed my notebook and pen, ran into the bathroom where I wouldn't disturb my husband, and got it all down before it disappeared. This morning, I transcribed it onto the laptop, added a bit more, and had 200 words written before breakfast. I wish all mornings were like that.

I can't help but laugh. I have been caught in the bathroom writing so many times at night. Once I got writing and couldnt stop. About 3,000 words and 90 minutes later and tried to get up but couldnt, my back had locked up. I had to crawl back to bed. Glad to see its just not me.
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JenniferHicks
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@Tiergan: Awesome. [Smile] My notebook is full of notes and writing done in the bathroom in the wee hours. Most of it has turned out to be unusable, but on a few rare occasions, something that seemed fantastic at 4 a.m. was still fantastic in the morning.
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LDWriter2
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I'm finally getting to this,

had the same experience as in the first note. With Q3 too. I had an idea for a neat story. A day later it was completely gone. But I didn't think it over more than a couple of times. Usually when I do go over it in my head quite a few times I remember it. I've done that at work. I get an idea and off and on for the next five hours I go over it in my head. As I said I usually remember it when I do that.

And at work I have written down my ideas or do actual writing. I use notepaper they use at work or seven by four inch slips of cardboard we use. Once I realized I had something like five to seven of these cardboards sitting on my computer desk.

I'm not sure if I ever had an idea in the middle of the night but I have tried to recall dreams that could be good ideas. Usually I can't wake up enough to write anything down but I try to go over the dream a few times before I fall back asleep. That hardly ever works. Even if I have to get up for some reason or another and go over the dream in my head the whole time I'm up I still usually forget it in the morning. Since I'm u I could write it down but I never think of it. But as I said usually I can't wake up enough to get up.

But there have been times that I work on a story, close down the computer get ready for bed and while in the bathroom think of something about the scene I was working on. I have been known to write that idea down but that's before I'm in bed. I think I have gotten back up once or twice to write something down as my mind worked as I tried to fall asleep but I've never gotten up for that purpose after falling asleep.

But I know one pro who has that memory problem also. Once on the way home from out of town he called his home phone and left the idea on his answering machine. And he was glad he did because he did forget his idea by the time he got home.

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Crank
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Three words that have allowed me to save just about every random idea and bizarre dream I've ever had: digital audio recorder. It has made a huge difference in the way I perform the craft of writing. And, trust me when I say I have no problem at all allowing people to see me apparently talking to myself; when you consider the number of people we all see during the day having what appears to be one-sided conversations, only to realize they're using earplug phones, I actually come across as normal by comparison.

I have a special directory on my hard drive where I upload all these stray insights. It's getting crowded right now because of everything else that's on my current 'to do' list, but occasionally I'm able to incorporate one of those seemingly unrelated ideas into one of my current WIP.

Oh...I'm also Old School enough to still jot down ideas during the day on whatever scrap piece of paper I can get my hands on. I've even asked servers at restaurants for extra napkins so I can have extra writing paper.

Whatever gets the job done.

S!

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axeminister
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"They have me surrounded, my enemies. They won't let me leave. Watching me. I send out tendrils through time. I need to change how I got here."

I don't remember tapping that into my phone. Maybe it's nonsense. Maybe I'll revisit. Maybe I'll use it while writing something else. Maybe I'll remember the rest of the details surrounding this. Maybe it will become a story I sell.

Regardless, I'm glad I wrote it down, if for no other reason than I wasn't PO'd when I woke up thinking, "why didn't I write that down!"

Axe

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babooher
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The last time I worried about something that seemed so awesome while I was still in the fog of sleep (albeit somewhat drug-enhanced) was the phrase "The next door next door."

Seemed profound at the time, but you got me if it seems profound now.

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ForlornShadow
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I had to have surgery a few years ago and I don't react well to anesthesia. As I'm waking up something that seemed like a really cool idea at the time popped into my brain. To be honest days later when I realized I'd had that good idea but in no way shape or form could have written it down, I was pretty bummed.
Still having a notebook at all times helps me keep up with my brain. It's crazy up there.

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LDWriter2
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babooher

the next door that is next door. [Smile]

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rstegman
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I post an idea a day, every day. I am set up to write down every idea I get. I still lose soe by not writing them down.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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axeminister, thar reminds me of something I wrote down in the middle of the night and still haven't figured out what to do with:

needs to find a way to tell the difference between paintings

Maybe we could collect some of these and snapper could post them as triggers (pick two and make them work together, sort of thing) for a writing challenge. (hint, hint)

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MattLeo
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Here's a story that's been attributed to various writers, but which I first heard attributed to James Joyce:

Joyce experimented with opium, and found that he had wonderful visions and words in his opium stupor that he could never remember afterward. So one day he put a piece of paper and pencil next to his bed before taking his opium, and sure enough he has yet another wonderful idea. He seizes the paper and writes it down, then falls back into his stupor.

Later Joyce awakes, reaches for the paper and reads on it, "Hogamus higamus, man is polygamous/ higamus hogamus, woman, monogamous."

Raymond Smullyan tells an almost identical story about a philosopher with an enlightening dream.

There was a philosopher who had a dream in which Socrates appeared to him and expounded his philosophy in remarkably succinct form. The philosopher replied to Socrates, who disappeared in a puff of logic. Then each of the great philosophers of history, from Aristotle to Wittgenstein, appeared to expound his philosophy, and the sleeping philosopher banished them all with the same, one sentence reply.

"I know that I am sleeping," the philosopher said, "but I have to remember this. I have found the universal refutation to every philosophy." So he struggled to the edge of consciousness, seized a pad of paper and pencil on his night table and wrote the sentence down. Then he sank back to sleep.

The next morning the philosopher awakes and remembers he wrote his idea for a universal refutation down. He eagerly seizes the scrap of paper and reads on it, "That's what *you* say."

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