This happens so often to writers: A great idea pops into your head while you’re driving, nodding off to sleep, or in the shower. Of course, you’re sure you’ll remember it. But by the time you sit down to start writing, your worst fear has been realized. You’ve forgotten your best idea.
Fortunately, the muses here at Writer’s Relief have some tips to help you capture those fantastic, fleeting sparks of inspiration and save them for the moment you’re ready to write.
Keep a notebook by your bed. Sometimes our best ideas occur to us when we’re falling asleep or even in a dream. Be ready with a notebook and pen on your nightstand so you can jot down your thoughts while still lying in bed—and before they’ve had a chance to slip away into the night.
Carry a notebook with you. A little notebook and a pen are must-haves for those times the muse taps you on the shoulder while you’re standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the kids at soccer practice, or sitting in the doctor’s office. Choose a notebook that’s small enough to fit in your purse or in your pocket.
Use EverNote. When a paper and pencil aren’t available, this mobile app is a great way to keep track of your latest plot twists or poetry stanza edit. EverNote lets you write quick notes and organize your thoughts on the go.
Get a waterproof notepad and pencil for the shower. Make sure your brainstorm doesn’t disappear down the drain before you’ve had a chance to dry off and write it down!
Retrace Your Steps.
What were you thinking? If you can’t remember your brilliant idea, try to remember what you were thinking about BEFORE you had your flash of inspiration. Oranges? Tap dancing? Why the dog was barking? By mentally retracing your steps, you may trigger the thought you’ve misplaced.
Literally retrace your steps. Go back to the place where you had the thought. Sure, standing in the shower fully dressed with the water turned off may seem silly. But sometimes returning to the place you had your breakthrough actually helps you break through and remember.
Play Tricks On Yourself.
Turn it into a song or rhyme. Setting something to music helps make it unforgettable. Has the idea for the perfect place for your villain to stash his weapon occurred to you while you’re up to your elbows washing the dog? Start singing: My old antagonist has a farm…EIEIO! And on this farm is the murder weapon hidden under the tractor…EIEIO! Sounds goofy, but we bet you’ll remember it!
And for centuries, before people used the written word, they used rhymes to remember important facts. So if you had a dream about where the characters in your romance novel have their first kiss, you can use rhyme to reinforce the memory: While sleeping on my pillow, I dreamt they kissed beside the willow.
Repeat. I repeat. Keep saying your idea out loud until you can get it down in writing. Or leave yourself a message on your phone to record your brilliant new ending.
Make Visual Connections. If you’re a visual learner, this trick is perfect for you. Instead of trying to remember the words, turn the words into images. If the new ending for your poem has you standing in a field of sunflowers, picture sunflowers standing in a baseball field, ready for the ninth inning. The more ridiculous the connection, the better you’ll remember it.
By using any (or all) of these simple techniques, you’ll be able to conquer forgetfulness and remember more of your best ideas—which will boost your odds of getting your writing published!
Question: Which method have you tried to help you remember ideas? How did it work?