Write It Down!
Written by
Maria Murnane
December 2011
Written by
Maria Murnane
December 2011

I took a yoga class a few days ago, and in the last (i.e. the best!) part of class, when you just lie there and relax, I was suddenly struck by an idea for a scene to include in the new novel I’m writing. The timing was unfortunate, but I couldn’t help when I came up with the idea! As soon as the class was over, I literally ran to the front desk and asked for a piece of paper so I could write it down.

Now this may seem a little extreme, but I’ve learned from experience that no matter how much I think I’m going to remember something I want to include later in a book, I never do. Here are some of my typical forgetful predicaments, which you may have experienced yourself:

  • If I come up with a great idea in the middle of the night, I won’t remember it in the morning.
  • If I come up with the idea at a yoga class, inevitably I’ll run into someone I know on the walk home and start chatting, or I’ll stop at the grocery store, and boom, I’ve forgotten all about it.
  • If I come up with it when I’m out with friends, forget it.

That’s why I (and you) should always WRITE IDEAS DOWN.

I usually keep a little notebook in my purse and a set of sticky notes by my bed and also in my car. If I find myself without anything to take notes on, I send myself a text message. In fact, I sent myself a text message the other day to write this blog post, and I completely forgot about it until I just saw it on my phone!

You may come up with the best line of your entire book while you’re shopping this weekend. If so, what are you going to do about it?


Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2011 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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  • Megan Oteri

    I like that photo

  • Patricia Flaherty Pagan

    I scribble in my small, purse notebook faithfully. However, by the time I leave the din of the hectic city streets for my quiet study, I sometimes aren't sure what I was trying to capture with my scribbles! Does this happen to anyone else?  I jotted down "Virgina Clemm-Poe's wife" on the inside cover of my notebook a while back and now I wonder, was I interested in her p.o.v., her young age, her doomed marriage, her everything? It's the germ iof an idea, anyway...  

  • Barbara Isaac Croce

    I so know what you are talking about!  I scribble on the palm of my hand so often... these quick little moments of genius can turn into such fun blog posts for me.  I often will just start a blog post and simply give it a title--it will remind me of what I wanted to explore!

  • Frankie Frasure

    some media devices have voice recorders too if you find yourself without pen and paper....phones, mp3/4 players, etc


  • Lorraine Schein

    I have a pen on my night table that lights up when twisted. I used to have a light up notepad.

  • Petrea Burchard

    Oh, yes, Debra, that's right. Good one. I have an iPhone3, the old one. I got an app called Dragon Dictation, I think. It's not perfect, but if I don't have a note pad and don't have time to type out long paragraphs it comes in handy. You can dictate to it, then it translates what you say into text, and you can email it to yourself.

    The translation part is definitely challenged and makes for some laughs later on. But I imagine in the newer iphones the dictation apps are more accurate.

  • Debra Victoroff

    the iphone and most smart phones have a "notes" app.  Very useful for this purpose.  Also, i think it might even have a voice recording function so perhaps one could dictate?

  • Barbara L.W. Myers

    I use my cell to call my home phone and leave a voicemail for myself with the idea.  I like to start the voicemail with, "Hello, Future Barbara, this is Barbara from the Past with a story idea."

    I got the idea from my mom, who leaves voicemails for herself on her job phone to remind herself to check her court calendar for vacation days, etc.  VMs are great for a frazzled brain that leaks like a sieve.

  • Gail Cohen

    I literally open a manila "file" for each idea I come up with. I write the project title on the tab and then slip the napkin, scrap of paper, etc. into the jacket. When I'm having a hard time working through a job, I give myself permission to pluck one file from the bunch and develop an outline, treatment or overview. You'd be surprised how many of my projects get done in tandem this way (both the fun stuff and the work assignments).

  • Kenya G. Johnson

    Great post Maria, I have notebooks everywhere.  I can't remember 5 thoughts from point A to B. So if I have to drive with my knee I'll get my thoughts on paper to make room for the next ones!

  • Claire McAlpine

    Someone gave me a small notebook recently (I have many writing notebooks but all bigger than this one) and I realise because it is so small and light, I always, always put it in my ever changing hand/daybag (I 'm always changing the bag I take out so only take the necessary), but this particular notebook has proved to be a real delight because I realise I have captured so many of those 'easy to lose' ideas and was reminded of how easy it is to forget them when I read from it to a friend a couple of days ago, some of the ideas can even become lost within the pages of the notebook, so its a good idea to go back and read it often. Thanks for sharing, a wonderful post.

  • Sherrie McCarthy

    I have two rules, always have a book on me and always have pen and paper on me.  You never know when you will need either!

  • Elizabeth Trimble

    I like it!! Ideas come to me at the oddest times and it seems I always forget exactly what it was. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Jacynth Rich

    Makes sense - thanks for sharing this tip!


  • Petrea Burchard

    Hee hee, Jacynth. I tell so many people about them I should get a commission! But when something works like they say it's going to, I don't mind telling people about it. I buy a lot of them at once to save on shipping and give them as gifts to writer friends.

  • Jacynth Rich

    Woah. I do my best thinking in the shower...googling Aqua notes right now!

  • Petrea Burchard

    I've always had a notebook in the car, in my purse, on my desk and by the bed. (Or, if you'd rather, scrap paper.) And I use them.

    A new thing to love love love, if you're as addicted to jotting things as I am: Aqua Notes. This is a note pad you can hang in the shower. It comes with its own special pencil and suction cups to stick it on the shower wall. You can write on it when it's wet, even if it's under water.

    What can I say? I get good ideas in the shower.

    Just google them, they have their own website and they're sold on Amazon, I think.

  • Sherrey Meyer

    I too carry a little notebook with a pen, pencil and highlighter in my purse.  Call it overkill on the writing implements if you wish.  You never know what you're going to need.  Blank deposit slips, notes sections in the back of your calendar, that last receipt you tossed in your purse, and even napkins will work in an emergency!

  • Laura Rae Amos

    Also, for any of you who use smart phones, there are notebook applications you can download, which I find very handy for this kind of thing.  I use one called GooMemo, which can sync up with my Google Docs, and then I can just copy/paste the note to my manuscript so I don't have to retype anything.  Or alternatively, you can write an unaddressed email and save it to your drafts. ;)

  • Anne Faulkner

    I've carried a little notebook with me for years. I have to confess that I'm a serial eavesdropper. Some people have a witty way of expressing themselves and sometimes I just have to scribble bits and pieces of their conversation. It's particularly entertaining to listen to exchanges between strangers who have somehow managed to annoy each other: the old guy and the clerk at Home Depot, the pedestrian and the yellow cab driver, cops and the OWS protesters. You can learn some very colorful language when people let their guard down.

  • Jacynth Rich

    This is just the kick in the butt I needed to start carrying a small notebook around! I've always felt it would be embarrassing or silly to just start writing after a class or meeting, that people would be like "you're taking yourself too seriously." But it does seem to be totally worth it to just write things down while they're fresh in their mind. Thanks!


  • Laura LoForese

    So true. I carry a little pad (with a little pen) with me everywhere. As well as a bedside notebook...even if it won't make any sense in the morning!

  • Laura Rae Amos

    I totally agree!