A friend asks:

When you are reading recreationally do you take notes if something triggers an idea for your latest work?

There is a part of the creation process I call “hunting and gathering.” This is most often when you’re fully immersed, looking for solutions, and ideas seem to come from everywhere. I’ve learned to always have note paper and a pencil on hand.

Or, do you try to turn your “work brain” off when reading recreationally?

By the same token, I need to wind down in the evening, so while I might jot down a note, I do not read for research, and draw the line at having a high-lighter in hand. (Yes, I mark up books.)

If you are driving in the car, out on a walk, or anywhere other than your desk and an idea comes to you (which would be great for your work), what is your process for remembering it?  Dictaphone, notepad?

For note-taking while walking, nothing beats a scrap of paper and pen in a back pocket, but taking notes while exercising — on a treadmill, for example — can be tricky. Also, I’ve not yet found a good way to take notes while driving. I do keep a post-it pad stuck to the dash and a pencil handy, but it’s a bit dangerous if I can’t pull over.

Some writers use a dictaphone, and I’ve gone to some trouble to learn to use one, but I’m not very good at keeping it charged or playing back the notes. (I’m working on this.)

There are, of course, apps for just about all of this: apps for dictation, for note-taking.

Some writers find inspiration in a shower: what then? If you’re a shower-inspiration writer, consider wet note-pad paper.

shower notes

When inspiration hits in the middle of the night and you don’t want to wake your partner, use Nite Note or similar product — a pad or pen that lights up.

Nite note

By equipping your world with note-taking tools you’re sending a message to your brain that you’re listening. Be ready.

Other posts in this series:

A writer’s routine: how many … hours, days, words?

A writer’s routine: pantster or plotter?

A writer’s routine: how to get into a creative head space

A writer’s routine: evolving what works

A writer’s routine: where to write

A writer’s routine: on resisting an outline

A writer’s routine: how to be productive

Opening image from “A Most Delicate Art” at BibliOdyssey.