Friday, May 20, 2011

How do you capture thoughts before they can be turned into written works?

By Pamela Moeng

I have a dusty copy of The Artist's Way on my bookshelf but though I did work through a great part of the book, the morning pages were never easy for me to sustain. I also tried carrying a little notebook around to write down observations, bits of conversations, descriptions of people, places and emotion, but alas the notebook also found itself being maimed for grocery lists, telephone numbers, impromptu map drawing and doodling to entertain toddlers, etc.

I tried scraps of paper, which I held onto until they were dirty and worn, but for some inexplicable reason none of these methods for capturing thought like butterflies on a summer's day worked long for me.

Email on my BBFF works well, but it doesn't have the same frisson of pen on paper. I can only imagine the sensual pleasure of dipping quill pen into a bottle of luscious indigo ink and carefully putting thought to parchment back in the day. Somehow the click-click of BB keys is not half as satisfying.

I'd really like to know what tricks other writers use to capture thoughts, elusively slipping into and out of mind so softly, to prevent them from sliding away before they can be tamed into elegant prose or lyrical poetry.

Anyone care to share?


tiah said...

I read that Anne Lammott keeps index cards and a pencil stub in her back pocket. I've heard of people using voice recorders - Dictaphone - which now are very small and are digital, rather than obnoxious tape.

As to me, while I will jot things down from time to time, I don't tend to write at the initial idea stage. I worry about killing it. Start too soon before it is ready and it will be all wrong. So these creatures, sentences, notions sit there in my head nagging while they morph and play around, until I am ready to go nuts. Then I write.

I am a head case.

Damaria Senne said...

@Tiah - LOL, you are. But if it works....

I have a notebook I scribble in. I also scribble things in my dateboo/diary and on every scrap of paper I can get at any particular time. I usually don't come back to the stuff I scribble until months, even years later. For me, scribbling these thoughts is a way to clear my brain of distractions so I can focus on the task at hand - usually, whatever article or story I'm working on.

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