Home Writing Tips Carry a notepad

Carry a notepad


Since leaving school (and for much of my school life, from what I remember) I have always made sure to carry a notepad or other idea noting device with me. It’s almost a default setting for me, even in this era of smartphones and modern technology. Sure, I use apps like Simplenote to keep track of some ideas (across all devices, multi-platform fans), but otherwise I always have a small A6 sized notepad that goes with me almost everywhere. And a pen, obviously.

You see, the problem with ideas is that inspiration can strike at the most inopportune moments. Uttering the writer’s mantra of “I must remember that” over and over is, sadly, an ineffectual way of storing ideas to jot down later. You can have the best memory in the world, remember with scary detail the home you lived in for just a few months when you were 18 months old, and yet mere seconds after you’ve had a great idea you think about something else and PUFF – it’s gone.

You need to write these things down when the idea strikes, or at the very least within a few minutes of it occurring. If you don’t, you run the risk of that idea being lost forever.

I’ve been there more often than I’d like to admit, and I carry notepads with me everywhere.

And it could have been a great idea, your next (or first) great novel or an incredible line of dialogue. Or perhaps it was a useful piece of insight into one of your characters, or even a generic scene that could slot into one of your very many projects.

And you forgot to write it down. Carry a notepad. Trust me, if you’re a writer it’s a good idea.

I’d be lost without my notepad. I can’t really remember any time since joining the wider world of work that I haven’t had something on my person with which to jot ideas down. I’ve always preferred an A6 sized notepad. My reasons? It’s small enough to fit in my pocket without digging into my thigh after every step, yet big enough to get quite a few ideas in it.

My latest discovery over the last few years is a company called Remarkable here in the UK. I chanced upon their notepads while visiting Margam Country Park in Wales and haven’t looked back. They recycle things and turn them into something, well, remarkable. Thus, I pay a slight premium to purchase notepads from them, although admittedly as it takes a while for me to get through each pad it is usually once every couple of years.

That’s the beauty of their notepads – they don’t have lines in them. A small point for sure, but the lack of lines means I can write a little smaller and fit more onto each page. I fit entire script plans onto a page or a double page spread, rather than over five or six pages as would be the case with a lined pad. It’s all about economy.

The reality is that I now have notepad after notepad filled with ideas. Most of them are terrible. That or I’ve just not figured out how those ideas can be turned into a positive. We’re writers after all. Bathing in our own self doubt and disgust at the pages we’ve just written is second nature.

But the point to take away is this: I have notepad after notepad filled with ideas. Almost every creative idea I’ve had in the last fourteen years is held in those pads, and that’s a very useful resource for a writer to fall back on.

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