Photo credit: Olivander via / CC BY-NC-SA

A to Z Challenge: J is for Jotting Down Ideas as they Come

Photo credit: Bust it Away Photography via / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: Bust it Away Photography via / CC BY-NC-SA

JMost of us make lists for grocery shopping and reminders of things that need to be done around the house; why should your writing be any different?

Every idea that comes to mind should be taken as something special, and written down in a notebook. It could be a name you heard mentioned in a meeting. One that gave you pause because it was such a cool name, it had to be in one of your stories. The idea could just be a concept or a blurry picture of a setting or character that keeps trying to come into view.

Many writers come upon their stories in dreams. If they were so good that you remember them when you wake up, write them down! It is so easy to forget things in our day-to-day lives. I’ve had ideas where, no sooner did I walk into another room, had they gone from my mind completely.

It can become like trying to recall an actor’s name to a friend. It’s on the tip of your tongue, but your brain won’t materialize the word. Many times you can visualize the person too, see their face so clearly in your head, but their name…gone.

Photo credit: Chiot's Run via / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Chiot’s Run via / CC BY-NC

Keep a small pocket notebook with you every time you go out. If you think of a good quote, jot it down. A character’s facial features come into view, sketch a picture of the character in your notebook. If you can’t draw, or are pressed for time, write down the details.

If you see an amazing tree that you don’t want to forget how it twisted and twirled into the sky, take down some key words so that you won’t lose the feeling it gave you when you stood before it.

There are countless times when a notebook can come in handy. They aren’t just for practical purposes anymore, like taking down someone’s number or writing directions to a friend’s house. Lists can be used to write down what you have left to fix on your website, or blog posts you want to write in the future.

They are a storage for your thoughts.

I suppose there are a few people who can remember everything that comes to mind. If you’re like the rest of the population and I, a simple pen and pad of paper should do.

Are you a note-taker, or do you remember all of the ideas that come into your head?

Once again, my giveaway for the A to Z Challenge is underway! Check out the post: G is for Gift Giving and Giveaway, to enter.

Photo credit: Olivander via / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: Olivander via / CC BY-NC-SA

15 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: J is for Jotting Down Ideas as they Come”

  1. I always have a notebook on me to scribble in. I do try to go through it at least once a week and rewrite things in more useful places (so all related things are kept together, like character notes or plot notes or things I want to buy or people I need to contact).
    Enjoy the A to Z challenge (I’ve been without internet access for 11 days so am just getting caught up!)
    Amanda (from

    1. No internet access for 11 days? Whatever did you do? I should go through my own notebooks and make sure that I put the relevant information into a safer place that is easily accessible. Having them scattered makes things tougher to find when you need them! Glad you are back online!

  2. I have notebooks and pens positioned all over the house and yet still get caught without and that flash of inspiration vanishes to the ether. I am also a very keen photographer and a picture does tell a thousand words when taken well.
    I thought I’d share a post I wrote about when we took my son to a French chocolate shop to see their Easter rabbit display. I’d forgotten that the lady had given him chocolates to eat in the shop and in retrospect that struck me as out of character. This was one of those look but don’t touch shops. Here’s the link:
    xx Rowena

    1. Pictures are amazing! I find that I rarely ever print them out nowadays with everything being digital. I would love to make a book of pictures from photos taken as inspiration for each book that I write. Or just add pictures into sketchbooks as well with notes to the sides. There are many options. A picture can really help you to capture and remember a moment or object. Thank you for sharing your post as well! It was a lovely read and makes me crave a nice heavy dose of chocolate :)

  3. I try and jot down little conversations or things that my kids say that are cute or funny, and this is a great reminder to do it more often! So many times I think I’ll remember things, but of course I don’t so I need to make sure I write things down in the moment. I can see why this would be especially important for writers! Great post.

    1. I should be doing that more often with my own son. I try to capture what he says, but I’m awful at remembering to write it all down. Great idea yourself!

    2. I’ve been doing this for years too, Jackie and now they’re getting older, they’re so precious. I’ve put them into books for them so they’ll be able to find them. Not mixed in with my personal diaries. xx Rowena

    1. It’s very true! I have several notebooks going right now that serve different purposes. I have a habit of mixing them up now and again, which makes things I write down near impossible to find at times.

  4. Good advice. I also use Google Keep, on my phone, quite a lot for this sort of thing. While I love notepads and pens, I find I’m more likely to have my phone in hand when ideas strike (expect when they strike in the shower… then I just have to keep running the idea around inside my head until I can write it down somewhere).

    — Paul @

    1. A notebook wouldn’t be good in that case either! I am very old school when it comes to that sort of thing: calendaring and note-taking. I need to jump over to digital more often. Google Docs is good for that too, since you can pick up where you left off on any computer you can access your email (if you have a Gmail account that is).

  5. I don’t use it everyday, but I do keep a small notebook with me and I’ll often jot down thoughts or ideas that I don’t want to forget. I’ll also take pictures of things, as a visual queue, that I want to remember later.

    1. Taking pictures is a great idea! I suppose the artist in me just wanted to sketch in a notebook, but pictures would capture something amazing in even more detail.

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