I was reading Joan Didion’s fine, stately memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking. The phrase jumped out at me from the page. Didion’s husband (the writer John Gregory Dunne) had died suddenly on her, right after dinner. What she recalled later on was that he couldn’t remember his notecards as they were leaving for the restaurant. He reminded her to take her notebook along, so someone would have something to write a note that came to them.

It’s a habit lots of good writers have — to take down the sudden note, the idea that just comes to you. It’s a habit to practice, for good reason. “Had he not warned me that the ability to make a note when something came to mind was the difference between being able to write and not being able to write?” She examines whether her husband sensed he was about to die.

Notes can be the difference, indeed. These phrases or snippets or ideas come from your right brain, the side that doesn’t keep good notes, but has great ideas or associations. If you need a simple tool to write with on the go, check out the Cross Ion pen. We’ve got a picture and a link about it on the Writer’s Workshop Tools page. As for the notecards above, they’re dead simple and easy to carry. Order yours online at Levenger.com, or look for them in the local office supply store. The eight bucks could be worth a fortune later, when you’re looking at a blank page.

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