scribblings :: 5 | 52

i have found that inspiration never strikes when it’s convenient. the good ideas come when i’m elbow deep in kneading bread dough, trying to explain long division, or pushing a shopping cart across a parking lot with kids in tow. so rather than a writer, i consider myself a scribbler. i always have a small moleskine in my bag for scribbling these tidbits down but in looking through the stack of papers on my desk and in my drawer, i’ve found ideas and notes written on:

: napkins
: receipts
: movie stubs
: bills
: scraps of bag from the bakery
: cardboard from a six pack
: the inside of a gum wrapper
: deposit slips
: due by cards from library books
: seed packet
: index cards (lots of index cards)
: cardboard cup sleeve from my favorite café
: correspondence from the irs
: a christmas letter we received from friends
: quite a few old crosswords with scribbling in the margins
: hospital bill
: a plethora of those pesky magazine subscription cards that fall out

i don’t know when it will happen but i’d like to put all these ideas in one place, try to make heads or tails of them and quite possibly shape them into something more substantial than a series of quickly jotted down ideas. how do you keep track of your ideas?

ps: this week’s list is inpsired by this article on emily dickinson

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  • It seems your desk and my desk have something in common :) There are things jotted down everywhere in our home, and in my bags. I do have a couple of notepads around the house, but there is something about the quick scribble on a scrap of paper…must. get. over. it.ReplyCancel

  • We have a lot of index cards around here, too. I keep a stack of them in a little basket – intended to be used for grocery lists & the like, but they end up being used for everything… I’ve never used those little subscription cards for magazines, but I like that idea & I may steal it from you! xoReplyCancel

  • Sounds like me. I started trying to keep one journal of sorts. I bought some wash tape and tape the odd bits of paper into the book.ReplyCancel

  • I have two white boards, legal pads, subscription cards, notebooks, the cover of my camera manual, index cards, bookmarks . . . as you can tell, my short term memory is rapidly disappearing. ; )ReplyCancel

  • i used to be a great napkin scribbler. these days, more inside the home, i rarely struggle jotting ideas down. my phone often serves as a notepad, a capturer of thoughts.ReplyCancel

  • I am also — historically at least — an inveterate scribbler. And it gives me enormous delight to find these old notes in jacket pockets, tucked into journals, in our junk drawer. But, when relegated to those cozy spots, more often than not that’s where those ideas stay. Sometimes that’s okay — sometimes I just have to get it on paper so my head doesn’t explode. But more and more over the last 6 months or so, I turn to Evernote — I’m starting to be unable to imagine my days without it! I use their web clipper to clip all manner of recipes and other inspiration online, but I also use it to keep track of blog post ideas, letters I’d like to write, notes on my DIY home remedy and body care experimenting, and on and on. Sometimes I type the note right in, and other times I’ve made a note on a napkin and I just snap a photo of it with my phone. Evernote can even search handwritten notes for words when you do a search, but I always heavily tag the notes as well. It doesn’t give me the same joy in the belly as the notes in my pocket, but it’s SO efficient and comprehensive. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • What a neat article and a great post! I am a scribbler as well. Trying to keep my thoughts to moleskins or other journals but I have been known to scribble on all types of pieces of paper. Your post reminded me of a fantastic book I read a long time ago called The Singing Creek Where The Willows Grow about a little girl who would write her ideas on tree bark.ReplyCancel

  • I have my grandmother’s recipe collection and one of my favorites is a recipe written in her handwriting on the back of an old check…guess I come by it honestly, I’m a scribbler too.ReplyCancel

  • right there with you, amanda! and those piles with such important short-hand are so harsh on the eyes. doesn’t seem right. 😉ReplyCancel

  • …you could make a beautiful book of all your thoughts on these slips in a journal…preety neat I think.
    Sorry I am just the same as you- a woman of a 1001 notes on this and that written with lipstick, crayon on whatever is handy.ReplyCancel

  • i love it. usually my ideas just fly out of my head because i don’t write them down. honestly i would love one of those wee little tape recorders so i could talk out my ideas. my mind works waaay faster then my hand can write, but my mouth can work almost as fast as my head. lolReplyCancel

  • i love moleskine, extraspecially the ones with graph paper.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda, the first thing I tell my writing students is to get a small, pocket notebook. Binding on the side, not the top. Write your name and phone number (in case you lose this most precious document) and the date on the inside. Take it with you everywhere. Everywhere.

    Having a little notebook in your pocket, by your bedside, in your purse, diaper bag, etc…flips the writerly switch in your brain, so that your mind starts believing in being a writer, and trusting that you, your pen and notebook will always be ready to take dictation from this wild, lovely place.


  • I don’t know how to keep better track of what you are doing but when you are done you should glue them all into a “smash” scrapbook!! That would be quite a pretty story of YOU!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mine always come right as I’m falling asleep…which means, even with the pad and pen by the bed, they never get written down.ReplyCancel

  • Me, too :) I just cleaned off my bedside table over the weekend and found a big stack of random bits and pieces of torn papers with thoughts and ideas to add to the other stack already in limbo in my desk. And that’s not to mention the 2 or 3 various notebooks I generally have hanging about. What I love is stumbling upon one of these scribbles that I had forgotten about and being inspired anew!ReplyCancel

  • i love this. i try to keep them together, and seriously they’re everywhere. tissue box sides, ferry schedules, napkins. but i’ve made a promise to carry a notebook, even to school drop off..ReplyCancel

    • admin

      sadly i do carry a notebook in my bag. i just find it easier to reach for a scrap of paper rather than dig for a notebook. might need to permanently attach a notebook to my left hand 😉ReplyCancel

  • Oh good, so your inspirations also appear in your mind at curious times, just as mine do, and then get written down on whatever is closest at hand. Wonderful! I read over the comments and must agree with the “always carry a notebook. always.” idea. However, if I have written down a good idea on a ticket stub or whatever, it usually makes it to my blog journal to be incorporated into a post eventually.ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    In much the same way as you do! Post-its work well too.ReplyCancel

  • yes…made me smile; the house painting project has made me go through (and temporarily relocate) just about everything we own…..and this all would have gone so much faster and smoother if I hadn’t kept finding my little mystery scribblings—in books, behind books, under bookcases, behind the dryer….you get the picture–which always led to time spent deciphering/following up/rewriting. If you figure this out little scribbling problem…..I’d love to see if I can get it to work for me, too!!!!ReplyCancel

  • This made me smile so wide. I always end up with a pile of papers, permission slips, receipts, backs of deposit slips. They make their way into piles in my studio, poems, books, illustrations. I often feel like I am stitching a quilt back together as I fumble my way through the words. I wish I was more organized, but I am happy when they just make their way into my head:) XOReplyCancel

  • What a GREAT list. Truly! I love it!

  • I consider you to be a beautiful writer. xoxo
    I keep my ideas in my sketchbook and in a couple of moleskines. My head can’t hold it all. I like how you have all of your ideas collected in one place. I can’t do that-which has led to the notebooks. Now when I get an idea, I dash around to find my notebooks. I have to admit ideas do get lost if I can’t scramble quickly enough.

  • an envelope
    back of a greeting card
    book mark
    a piece of cardboard
    margin of the news paper

    the list goes on. i love this photo!