Ever been caught when that ‘good idea’ floats in – and vanishes just as quickly, before you can get back to your computer? Just as you’re writing to a deadline or trying to make up your NaNoWriMo quota?
History offers us a few ways out of it. Back in the nineteenth century a good number of New Zealand settlers carried watercolours, paper and brushes with them – the same way most of us carry a camera (phone) today.
Their quick-sketch records are a wonderful snapshot of how they saw their world. Others carried notebooks – among them land buyer Donald McLean who wrote moment-by-moment events as he watched them happen. Like this moment when he watched Maori haul a canoe up the raging Manawatu river:
“…A strong tug and a long tug. Poor fellows – just touch and go and she will do it. No! Yes, she will! There comes the help – now! One strong pull and and one long pull! No – not yet! …Into the water, lads! Over she goes, some of the helpers struggling to gain the shore among the heavy boulders and rocks“.
A few hand-written notes can be incredibly valuable, quite apart from capturing ideas then and there. Because:
1. Writing ideas down with a pen frames your thoughts in ways that differ from a keyboard.
2. You can literally draw connections between ideas.
3. Ideas can float in, from left field, in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.
4. Paper works during power cuts and doesn’t need charging.
5. Paper’s recyclable and renewable…unlike plastic and electronic parts.
My top tip today? When you go out next, take a notebook with you. One made of paper…
Or do you already? I’d love to hear from you.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013
Coming up: Write it now, more National November Writing Month tips, writing prompts and more. Watch this space.