The other night, as I was in that hazy zone between awake and asleep, an idea flitted across the front of my brain. I had a notebook within arm’s reach of where I was sleeping. I told myself to reach over and grab that notebook and write it down. Did I? Nope. I made the usual big mistake that people make and told myself I would remember it in the morning. It was, after all, a very good idea, and something I thought could be built up and turn into something rather good. Something that good, my sleepy brain reasoned, would stick around.
The object lesson for today: if it occurs to you, write it down.
It doesn’t matter if you think the idea is so good that writing it down isn’t necessary, or that it is so good that it will stick to your brain until you get a chance to write it down (after waking up, perhaps): write it down as immediately as possible. There is no reason not to these days, when everyone practically carries a computer in their pockets. Almost every cell phone I’ve used has some kind of notepad application on it by default, and the new ones almost all have basic voice recorders of some sort – even without a voice recorder, they all have video recording. Even if you hate the sound of your voice or your visage captured digitally, keep in mind it’s only there until you can get it down on paper or your idea file or whatever else it is you use to keep track of what you think up here and there. It’s temporary, and no one has to listen to it or see it.
Whether the idea is one you think would be subordinate to a larger theme in a piece of work, or one you think could carry a work alone and be a bestseller. remember to write it down. It’s the best insurance for your brain you can have.