Whenever an idea, phrase, even just a word, comes to you, write it down. (You would be surprised how even a jotted word brings about a stream of writing.) There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to remember a thought that you didn’t record. Sometimes something comes to me as I am falling asleep, at which point I grab a notebook from my nightstand and mark it down. When I’m out and about, napkins, paper scraps, store receipts suffice. (Careful with the receipts as often they resist writing; I guess they are treated with some kind of preservative!) Most importantly, always have a pen or pencil with you, and if you’re really organized — which I’m not — carry a small notebook.

I recall driving to the beach with my teen-age son and dictating to him some thoughts. Also the recording option on a phone is useful but I prefer actual writing; for me the sound of a pen or the feel of a pencil on paper somehow propels my mind; the manual drives the cerebral. To stir inspiration, William Wordsworth would walk for hours in England’s Lake District. American poet Wallace Stevens, too, found walking an inspiring method. He walked to and fro his job at the Hartford insurance company, using paper scraps he carried in his pockets. Edgar Allan Poe created scrolls for his writing by connecting his pages end-to-end with sealing wax.

Many writers have written inspiration on as many surfaces. Because of his failing eyesight, James Joyce wrote on large pieces of cardboard using a bright red crayon. Famously, at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan, Hemingway scribbled on a napkin his six-word story: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. Faulkner outlined one of his books on a wall.

Whether you write on napkins or receipts, don’t let them pile up on your desk or remain in your pocket or purse. Follow the spark.

bestel viagra