I’m always writing.
I don’t mean I’m always sitting in front of a computer, churning out words, although it certainly feels like that.
No, the boon and the curse of being a writer is that you can do it anywhere. Many times, I’ll flesh out a column or a blog post while I’m driving, puttering around the garage, or in the shower. An idea will take hold, and I’ll start fleshing out ideas before I ever get a pen in my hand.
Standing, that’s working. Sitting is working. Pacing is writing. I do my best thinking then. Looking out the window, that’s writing. Brushing your teeth is writing. Anything’s writing,” Rob says. “The hardest writing is showering.’
On the upside, that means that I can be working whenever I’m awake or have a little downtime. On the downside, that means I’m working whenever I’m awake or have a little downtime.
The problem comes when I get a good idea and start fleshing it out, only to forget it later. I usually carry a notebook around with me, but the Indiana State Police frown on people scribbling down notes while they’re driving down the highway.
I’ve also had a great idea that I wrote in my head and then found out that I had already done something just like it a few months earlier (that’s happened more than once).
Or when I’ve just spent the last 6 – 8 hours working, and I just want to relax and shut my brain down for a little while, I can’t stop thinking about new ideas.
So here are a few things I do stop thinking about writing for a while:
- Keep a pen and paper on my bedside table. When I have an idea just before I drop off to sleep, I write it down.
- Use Evernote on my mobile phone. I store all my ideas, interesting articles, and notes on my Evernote. And one thing I love about mobile Evernote is that I can record an audio note. When I’m in my car, I just hit the Evernote Audio button, and record the idea. It’s uploaded to Evernote, and it downloads to my laptop the next time I fire it up.
- Carry a notebook at ALL times: I’m a Moleskine snob and am very picky about my pens — blue Pilot G2 .05mm — and I make sure I have it with me. That way, I’m always ready when inspiration hits.
- Use a notes app on my iPad. For whatever reason, I’m not a big fan of the standard Notes app on my iPad, so I bought Draft a few days ago, and I’ve been enjoying that. I use it to take notes at sporting events I’m covering, and even use it when I’m watching TV. I also set it up to forward my notes to Evernote (which is also a note taking app, but I couldn’t tell you why I don’t use it instead. Certainly would’ve saved me $2.99).
- Just write the damn thing: I was trying to enjoy a quiet lunch when this blog post popped into my head. I kept thinking about it and thinking about it until finally I just pulled out my laptop and wrote it. Took me 30 minutes, and now I’m done. Of course, lunch is over and I have to go back to work. . .
The idea behind these strategies is that if I write an idea down, I get it out of my brain where it’s been rattling around. That frees me up to think about other stuff, or at the very least, stop thinking about that idea. I can shut down my mental writing for a while and focus on something else.