Write It Down, Write It All Down.

This article is posted in Brain2Page.


This one will be pretty short. Probably. Maybe. Just go with me on this.

In a previous post about Maintaining Momentum I spent a lot of time talking about a lot of different things, all of them designed to keep you striding forward confidently and quickly. But one thing I barely mentioned is the concept of Saving Everything, which has nothing whatsoever to do with maintaining momentum, and everything to do with future inspiration.

Doesn’t matter where you are, who you’re doing, why you’re running from the police, when you’ll hit the ground, or what your fortune cookie says.

Never be without something to write on or with. I can’t tell you how many ideas, character concepts, interesting names, titles, phrases, sentences, words I’ve had knocking around in my head that I’ve lost because I thought:

I don’t need to write it down. This is so good, I couldn’t possibly forget it.

Shut the hell up, me. Shut right the hell up. I will cut you, me.

I didn’t remember it. I couldn’t recall what it was. I had lost something that I thought was great. Maybe it was. Maybe it was my ticket to seven figures. Maybe I’d have groupies if I could just remember that wonderful idea!

Or maybe it was garbage. Maybe I had stolen the idea from something else and appropriated it for myself, thinking it was all me. Maybe I should be punched by thirty children with Sock’em Boppers until I go insane for my audacity.

Point is, I’ll never know. Because I didn’t write it down.

My truck has a center console, and in that center console are about thirty pens and a pad of paper. It’s not uncommon for me to be driving down the road and suddenly pull into a Dollar General parking lot so I can write something down.

In my messenger bag I have three notebooks, lots of pens, and a tablet in case I need to jot something down.

There are notebooks or paper in every room in my apartment (even the bathroom).

I normally have a pen on my person. It’s cumbersome to carry paper without a bag, so if I’m somewhere without my bag I have a folded up wad of paper in my wallet just in case.

I’m tired of losing ideas. I’m tired of never knowing if the half-remembered concept was worth the  paper I’d have written it down on.

Late comedian Mitch Hedberg had a small bit that relates well to this. The joke goes something like this:

Sometimes in the middle of the night, I think of something that’s funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen’s too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain’t funny.

Sure, the joke’s kinda funny, but it illustrates a point that “he thought of something funny and wanted to write it down”. Out of laziness he convinces himself that it isn’t funny and not worth writing down, but in any real situation YOU WRITE IT DOWN. Who knows what other funny jokes may come out of it? What you think is stupid today may be brilliant tomorrow.

Write it down. Write it the hell down. Write it All the Hell Down.

4 thoughts on “Write It Down, Write It All Down.

  1. This is great advice for writers.

    I personally find that if I take in a lot of literature my brain will often spontaneously produce new ideas, or ways of expressing them, as if these were byproducts of the brain processing, sorting, and recombining things at a subconscious level. Very much like dreams. Also like dreams, if I don’t record them soon after the “moments of inspiration” it’s unlikely that I’ll recover the train of thought.

    It may be just be how the brain works, but I suspect that it’s related to the concepts of a “muse,” “daemon,” “divine spark” of artistic inspiration, or “creative unconscious” that have been put forth by various creative persons through history. Some of our best ideas are due to forces not directly under our conscious control.

    • Point about dreams: One of those notebooks in my apartment is on my nightstand, and it is filled with random thoughts and dream chronicles, to the point that if I go back and read it I probably won’t know which ones are dreams and which waking thoughts.

      Not that that’s a bad thing.

      I’ve talked a lot about the Muse in the past, so when I agree with your assertion that it relates to the concepts of the muse and other terms, it is from a place of experience that I agree.

      Sure, it’d be cool to think there’s a cosmic force guiding my pen, but I know that my inspirations come from the amalgamation of my life experiences, my entertainment choices, and those interesting and creative people with whom I surround myself.

      But then, maybe that very combination that enables us to feel inspired and aspire to higher realms of thought IS a cosmic force guiding us.

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