10 Ways to Capture Ideas without a Notebook/Computer

Even though writers tend to carry around a notebook or two (at least I do!), you might one day find yourself without one — just when inspiration strikes. Here are 10 ways you can capture those ideas before they escape!

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If you have a pen/pencil:

1. Post-it note
As weird as it sounds, I’ve overlooked these handy little papers more times than I can count. They’re not great for long pieces of writing but are great at holding short, simple ideas or those perfect lines you come up with in the middle of your work day.

2. Envelope
Once, I had to make a draft for a presentation and I had absolute no paper with me. After a double check, I found an used envelope. It had some writing on it but I simply put all of that into a box and started writing all around it. More space than in a single post-it and works well for a longer bullet point list as well!

3. Shopping list
Grocery shopping when you overhear a conversation that magically solves your plot problem? Jot it down on your shopping list! Just remember to hold on to your list once you’re done.

4. Napkin
A classic. When inspiration strikes on a lunch break, utilize those extra napkins you’ve hoarded.

5. Arm
If you simply have no paper or other surface to write on, there’s always your skin. Might not be pretty, might not be the cleanest solution, but in a pinch it’ll do the job. When I was in my early teens, writing on your arms/hands/legs/wherever you could was all the rage. Just be prepared to answer questions if you plan your plot on a visible part of your hand!

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If you have a phone:

6. Note app
There are dozens and dozens of note apps out there for you to choose from. I’m currently using Evernote but anything that allows you to type up stuff will work. Depending on the app you might even be able to sync it directly to your computer! Apps with offline access are also useful if you don’t happen to have internet available where you are.

8. Email
If you don’t have a note app, email works just as well! Start a new draft and type all you can manage. This was a popular method of mine back when my phone had limited apps on it. The drafts wouldn’t even sync with my computer so I always had to send it to myself as a message, but at least I didn’t lose any good progress.

9. Recorder
If you can’t quite keep up with your thoughts while typing on a phone, you could try a recorder. That way you’ll still be able to use your hand/s and even pay attention to the world around you. In a public place this might be less appealing but if you’re on a forest walk, what better way to advance your story? You’ll have to write it again once you get home, but you might capture moments you wouldn’t while simply typing.

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If you have nothing:

10. Speak!
Even if you can’t record it, speaking aloud can help you remember better. I can think about a plot point a thousand times and the chances are I’ll forget it by the end of the day — maybe end of the hour. Speaking your ideas creates three memories: the thought itself, the speech and the sound. You might still leave some details out when you finally get around to writing, but the chances are your text will look a whole lot better than if you’d just spared a thought to it.

 


Now it’s your turn!

Did you find this list helpful? Were there any points you’ve tried yourself?

Is it hard for you to remember writing ideas later if you can’t immediately write them down?

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