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My friends call me Elldee. And breaking the half century mark has been highly motivating: happy wife, mother, writer, teacher, day dreamer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Multitasking: My ideas occur when I can't put them in writing

Memo: Got your ideas right here
Other than when reading, I never have the time to give one task all my attention.  During this time of year, it is especially difficult.  Until school ends, I simply must be doing more than one thing at a time (and actually several things at once):  emailing a colleague about a meeting, sorting assignments, prepping one computer for presentation while I am waiting for a program to install on another, getting items together to discuss with a student.  Sometimes the thing I am trying to do in tandem with other tasks is related to writing when I don't have access to a computer.  While I shower, I work through scenes I want to draft or redraft, but my shower is not computer friendly.  As soon as I am out, I do nothing but worry about losing all my ideas before I can find the time to write them down because more than likely I am getting ready for school or for bed and no time is available.  So while my brain was busy planning that amazing plot twist or clarifying a character's motives, it was doing so with the sure danger that I will not be able to write it down and even worse won't get the chance until after I get back from work.  I often review my ideas over and over hoping to imbed the kernels of particular value while I am blow drying my hair, putting on makeup and getting dressed, but it never works.  Faint echoes are all I am left with when I am finally able to seize the moment to jot them down.

Yesterday, I was getting ready and began thinking through two scenes I need to add to the first novel in my Students of Jump series.  One can't type with wet hands, and it would be tough in the bathroom even it I tried.  However, there on the counter was my iPhone.  It has the app Dragon Dictation, but I haven't made an effort to use it.  Knowing I was going to lose all my fast approaching ideas, I grabbed the phone and activated that app.  I dictated about a paragraph, took a glance at it through somewhat soapy eyes only to find it had only caught the first six words which did not include "entropy scram" (In this scene...).  I tried three more times without any worthwhile results.  Out went that idea.  I think the exhaust fan combined with running water just did not work well with this app.  But iPhones come with a voice memo app.  I gave that a try.  And two scenes later all my meteoric flashes of insight and inspiration were recorded and easy to access.  What was especially nice was I stopped more than once to think a bit, pausing the recording, and when I had my idea ready, I was able to return to recording.  I did that at least three times.  Four minutes of notes on my next two scenes all tied up and clearly enunciated rather than my scribbled writing.

Ahh, but then another flash of inspiration came to me.  I have two blogs to write and since I am feeling creative... So on went that little app again which shortly recorded two blog post ideas and my new writing prompt for the week. I knew I would not be writing them for at least another day and, of course, would not remember the details my mind was so rich with at that time.  Even when I do find a moment to write a note, I tend to just jot down a sentence or two rather than the long list of points I wanted to make.  But every word that came to me as the muse whispered in my ear was on that recording, no recall necessary.  I didn't even have to consider if I would be able to make out my writing which becomes quite messy when I am hurried. This very post was the first of the two ideas I dictated. 

Alright, this is not a genius idea.  Many people employ a recorder for catching To Do's or notes to the secretary or self.  But I haven't.  So for those who have this method available to them and often don't have the time to sit down and do the work when they think about it, try it.  I am sold.  My ideas are not going to drift out of my memory or be scribbled on a tablet leaving me wondering what I was so excited about.  My stream of thought was flowing, and the app was busy recording: nothing between me and my inspiration.
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