My goal for this series of blog posts is for writers to save themselves a lot of time and frustration. This series is meant to get you on the path toward publication, provided you put in the work of writing and revising. Don't worry if you don't follow all these recommendations--who could? I'll be the first to admit that even I'm guilty of sometimes not using my time wisely--look for my tip on social media! But overall this series contains hard-won truths on how to make writing a bigger part of your life. I hope it clarifies the publishing guidelines, professional etiquette, and protocols you may have been unsure about in the past. More than anything, I hope it puts you on track toward opportunities you may not have imagined.
Of course, a notepad, journal, or in some cases, a smart phone with a note-taking feature works just as well. The important thing is that you don't want to miss a good idea, or let that moment of inspiration slip by. The best way to ensure you're ready to jot down the idea is to have something available to record a good idea so it's not lost.
I've grown attached to my Moleskin notepads and journals. I like how lightweight they are and I like the array of colors they come in. For years I've been in the habit of keeping a slim Moleskin notebook either in my purse or backpack. I tend to write the year in permanent marker on the front in the top right-hand corner so I can keep my notes in some semblance of order over the years. I also make sure to keep pen and paper on my nightstand.
You can never tell when a good idea will strike. I've discovered that my imagination seems more active before I go to sleep and while going on long walks or running. I also seem to write more when I'm traveling. In short, things inspire me all the time and yet I can never predict when something will trigger a good idea.
I've had many instances where I lost an idea because either I thought I'd remember it later, or I simply lost the scrap of paper or napkin I wrote something down on. I've learned over time to be ready to write down those rare moments of inspiration. Not on a stray post-it or a loose scrap of paper (I seem to always lose the note that way), but in a notebook or something that's not likely to get lost.
I can't tell you how many times having that notepad on me has come in handy. I'm able to catch snippets of dialogue, names I find particularly interesting, words I run across that I want to look up. The list goes on and on. I've also drafted poems in those notebooks while stuck in traffic and at stop lights! (Yes, I know I should probably not admit to that last part.)
Writers tend to be very observant people. We are trained to notice the world around us. It's in our DNA. Being able to capture what strikes us enables us to translate our most inspired ideas into our work, ultimately creating something that is multidimensional; a work of art.
Tasha Cotter, @TashCotter, is a poet and fiction writer based in Lexington, Kentucky. She is the author of two chapbooks of poetry and the full-length collection, Some Churches (Gold Wake Press, 2013). You can find her online at www.tashacotter.com.