Always carry a notebook on you. Every time you have an idea, jot it down—no matter what. You will never regret having a small notebook with you. Moleskine makes beautiful small black notebooks, and Rhodia fine small orange ones. But I much prefer the rye-brown Muji variety. I only buy spiral-bound notebooks without lined pages, although I mostly use these for prose. The freedom of the unlined page is appealing. In fact, the freedom of a new notebook often defeats writer’s block: Just start scribbling, doodling, and making lists. The story will emerge. Give it shape, literally, via a series of lines like musical notation. And always, always jot down the idea when it strikes. Always carry a notebook.

A notebook app on a smartphone also works well, although it doesn’t offer the possibilities of doodling. The advantage of typing a quick note to self, recommendation, or line of dialogue into a smartphone is that it’s already typed and can be easily transferred to a Word or Google doc. Even with a smartphone in pocket, still: Always carry a (paper) notebook.

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