Writing on the Fly

Most of us, myself included, tend to write when and where the mood strikes us. Due to “Murphy’s Law, for me that usually means when I’m not close to a keyboard or laptop, and often when I have to play scavenger hunt to find scraps of paper to write on and a pen / pencil to write with. So while I’m tooling down the old two-lane, groping under the passenger seat for a crumpled up Micky-D’s bag, while I strain to keep my 1982 oinkmobile between the ditches, I run a serious risk of forgetting that tasty bit of dialogue or character trait I’ve put together in the windmills of my mind.

As you might have gathered by now, I’m not the most organized person to throw ink on the pages. It’s not that I haven’t tried. At one point I developed what I thought was the ideal writers journal. The beast was housed in a 3 inch, 3-ring binder and indexed by every major catagory and subject I could think of. I carried it around like a tiny life support system. The problem? I tend to get ideas, inspiration, place settings and plots in little unannounced nuggets that roll to the surface like a championship swordfish. If I don’t have the gafer’s hook ready and land that sucker fast, it’s gone forever. So, I tended to flip through the journal, hopelessly searching for the proper category to log my newly found nugget under before it got off the hook. Most times it did. The other key issue with that beastly journal?  I tended to spend so much time maintaining it and making it pretty that I didn’t get any real writing done.

Lately, I’ve been carrying a pocket sized digital recorder so I can dictate thoughts as they pop into my head. Now if I could just figure out all the confusing bells and whistles they insist on putting on these little boxes. Grrrrrr!  Since I’m on the road a lot, this works somewhat better than the journal system, mostly because I jot down random snippets….chunks of dialogue, peculiar names, odd descriptions, street names, scenes, the whole shmear. I know, it’s disorganized, but it works for me. What I do with all those snippets and nuggets is horde them on the recorder, or in my daytimer. Then I download them into a story or chapter as I free write at my desk or the coffee shop. Items not used are save for later and worked into the plot as needed. I won’t kid myself (or you) into thinking this is efficient, nor would I recommend it to others unless they track to the same tunes as my jumbled mind. In fact, my daughter writes, and is amazed I am able to for complete paragraphs using such an arcane method, let alone craft a full story / chapter.

Having said all this, I open the floor to other writers. What works for you and how do you accomplish it. Chime in, it’s your dime.            Murph

© Murphy Edwards 2011


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