Recording those thoughts


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Yesterday I was kind of mad at myself for forgetting what seemed to be a really cool idea, even in the light of this morning the idea escapes me. Perhaps forgetting what it was made the idea seem all that much more cool and important. But as I was falling asleep last night, thinking of the post that I had only just finished, it occurred to me that there are a number of ways to record your ideas. There’s the obvious pen and paper, a quick type on the keyboard, and even voice recorders.

Pen and paper. Can anything be more simple? I use this medium all the time when I come up with ideas. It can be any kind of pen or paper so long as pen shows up on the paper. I often use old receipts, sticky notes, scraps of paper, even my organizer/calendar is used to take a few lines of notes/ideas. I remember reading a post by J.K. Rowling once that she has, I believe, a shoebox full of notes on paper. And like me, she also uses whatever bits of paper to write down a quick idea–napkins, etc. Unlike Rowling, I translate all of my ideas onto computer. I have a file in my email for this purpose, after a little while, I collect all my ideas and put them in the folder.

I also use the computer to record ideas directly, not just to organize those thoughts. If I am already on the computer, perhaps surfing the net, and I become inspired, then I just switch over to a word document to record it. I can save the document as it is or I can send it to myself in an email. These word documents always find their way to my email, and occasionally I’ll go through the email folder and sort them further into categories: good for short stories, good for novels, use in current projects, trash it, etc. When one of those ideas is really inspiring, I’ll immediately get writing on that work and it becomes a new folder–no longer an idea, but a work in progress.

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never used voice recorders, but I really want one and I’ll tell you why. When I’m in the car, driving, I’ll sometimes get an awesome idea. I can’t write it down because that means I need to look for pen and paper (paper more often than pen since it flies around while my windows are down). I want something that won’t fly out the windows when they are rolled down to let some air in; something that I just reach down and grab with one hand (turn on) and record my thoughts. That I think that it would be really cool to have a voice recorder. 🙂 They come in a range of prices and styles. I’ve seen them from $15 to over $100. I’m looking at one that’s about $30. It’s a digital voice recorder. The idea is I can play it back and decide where to put it on my computer. I would like one that is easy to use, and what would be really cool was if I could plug it into my computer and just transfer the files over and listen to them at my leisure.



Filed under Writing

9 responses to “Recording those thoughts

  1. GD

    Ideas come and go through my brain like crazy, so I know how you feel! That’s why I immediately type them into my phone before they spill out. Great post!

    Visit my writing blog at

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I wish I had a feature like that on my phone. I hardly ever use mine, so I got a prepaid phone that makes phone calls. That’s about all it does. lol. Glad you found a way to record your ideas.

  2. I posted my comment on the poll instead of here… but it’s the same comment, really.

    • I mean, not the same as in the same as the other commenter, but what I posted on your poll is what goes here.

      • I figured that much. 🙂 Thanks for polling and commenting. I know scraps of paper is probably a bad idea to record thoughts. If I write it down I can usually remember them, even if I can’t find the paper later. Your way is probably much more organized. I always have little bits of paper floating around, but it’s usually on sticky notes. For some reason they seem to be attracted to me. I don’t even know where I got all the sticky pads I have.

  3. Hi, DW. (Don’t know your real name!) Just discovered your blog recently via Twitter. 🙂

    I never thought of using a shoebox before, but that’s a great way to store ideas on little papers like that when you don’t have time yet to put it all into the computer. (I just clip mine to my manuscript where I’d like to make changed, but if you’re working on the first draft at the time then the shoebox would definitely come in handy–particularly if you have a lot of ideas!)

    And I think investing in a voice recording is a great idea, if you haven’t already. My MP3 player just so happened to have one built in when I bought it, so it’s nice to have that dual purpose. I use it for the same reasons you mentioned (mostly dialogue ideas come to me when I’m driving).

    I talked about this and all the other methods I use in-depth last month here, if you’re interested.

    • Tiyana, you can call me DW, or Doro, or Dorothy. I have no intention, however, of being published under my full name. Which is why I chose DW, since those are the initials that I intend to use for publishing purposes.
      I’ve finished my research on voice recorders, and have finally decided which one to get. It would be nice if my MP3 player could also record voice, but I am not so lucky. And all my ideas do get into the computer when I have the time, but when I don’t, they’re all in one spot for easy sorting.

      • Since, by virtue of knowing you in real life I know your real name, I’m curious under what name you intend to publish, may I ask?

      • I hope to publish under the name DW Ellis. For obvious reasons I think. When I get married, I intend to keep my last name as a second middle name. Plus I like DW as initials far better than DM, and I have no intention of having my full name out there.

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