Record your ideas as soon as you have them.

I’m writing this blog from the driver’s seat of my car

Okay,  I’m actually recording a sentence of it every time I hit a stop light.  I use an Sony ICD-PX333. The typing up comes later (or, if you’re really lazy, you can plug it into Dragon Naturally Speaking and it’ll transcribe your words for you.

I like voice recorders because they are instantaneous, recording entire monologues with the touch of a button.  With paper, you need to retrieve the pen and actually write (I can talk at 160 words per minute, I’m lucky if I can scratch 55 wpm with a pen). If you’re good at improv, you can do both sides of a conversation and have entire scenes in the time it takes to record them.

Another great part of voice recorders is that you can talk to yourself and then answer back later.  I’ve asked rhetorical questions, recorded my to-do list.  The voice recorder is a device that instantaneously transmutes all your musings into a concrete, recallable form.

If you have a smartphone, you have the ability to do this, but there’s something to be said for a dedicated device. A voice recorder is one touch, which makes it easier to use in the dark, in bed, while driving. With a smart phone you need to wait the thirty seconds it takes for the little processor to find your voice memos. You’d think that this wouldn’t matter, but motivation is funny. The more work you have to do to get to your ideas, the more resistance you’ll have to actually recording them.

It’s important to record ideas as soon as you have them. We think we won’t forget, but the truth is we do. The brain is funny, if you have your ideas recorded somewhere, your brain will give you more… if you never do anything with the ideas you have, eventually you stop having them. It’s important to record your ideas as soon as you have them, ubiquitous capture is a key step to personal organization and productivity.

Regardless of whether you get a recorder or not (seriously, do) the lesson to be drawn from this is to maximize your available time.  A lot of beginner writers will say something along the lines of “I will write from 8 to 12,” and if they miss that window they’ll discard the idea of writing that day entirely.  This leads to procrastination, and procrastination is the grave that opportunity is buried in. It’s not about having the perfect amount of time to write in, it’s about making the most of every moment you have. Get in the habit of recording your ideas. It’s good practice, and you’ll have something to develop when you finally sit down to write.


Write Whenever you can (Written in Ten Minutes)
When is the most popular day to start a  screenplay? Tomorrow.

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

3 thoughts on “Record your ideas as soon as you have them.

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