I few weeks ago I wrote about ways to protect your computer files. But how do you preserve your ideas when you can't immediately enter them into electronic format?
Remember the Rich Mullins song “Awesome God”? The story goes that Mullins was driving when the song came to him. He pulled off the highway and searched his vehicle for something on which he could save that thought. Eventually Mullins found a pen and an empty French fry package.
Last week when Jennifer Hudson Taylor blogged about “A Digital Calendar Solution to Simplify Life,” I hesitated to join the discussion. I depend on paper calendars. First, the kind I can slip into my jacket pocket (available at dollar stores for one dollar). Second, the scenic calendars provided by my credit union (free to account holders). And third, a “Dilbert” page-a-day calendar (a gift each Christmas from a family member).
While the first two calenders help me remember my conference commitments and project deadlines, the page-a-day tear-off calendar proves most useful. The front side is entertaining, but the back side is blank. I keep a stack of blank-side-up calendar pages and a pen or two on my nightstand—and another stack beside my work computer.
At the end of the day, I review my list, cross off what I've accomplished, and prepare a new list for the next day (and put the old list in my white paper recycling pile). No technology needed.
But that stack of blank pages proves even more useful after I turn out the lights and climb into bed. Over the years I've found that when I'm deeply involved in a writing or editing project, it's hard to turn off my brain at the end of the day.
Late one evening a week ago I checked my email and found a message from a client who has a great nonfiction project—but only an average title. He'd responded to my suggested title options with a half-dozen alternatives. That got my brain working—and working.
For a half-hour or more after I turned out the lights, sleep eluded me—but title options kept coming. Finally I got out of bed and took a blank calendar page and a pen to the bathroom counter under the nightlight. I wrote down three title and subtitle combinations. Then, secure in the knowledge that I wouldn't lose those ideas, I went back to bed and quickly fell asleep.
Last night it happened again. Before lights-out I took a fresh calendar page and wrote my next-day tasks. Writing this blog entry topped my list. I knew the general topic (it and two others are recorded on a blank calendar page taped to my office bookshelf). But after I turned out the lights, my brain began cycling through title options.
Finally I turned to my nightstand, found the stack of pages and a pen, and scribbled, “Save That Thought.”
“You must be writing something down,” my wife said.
“So I can go to sleep.”