Try This! - Write it Now (Before You Forget!)

By Karen Terlecky:

The older I get, the more frequently I tend to have an amazing idea (writing or otherwise), and then later when I want to work with that idea, the specifics elude me.

I was at a writing retreat last summer, and received the best advice for this issue --

When an idea comes to you, write it down immediately. Take five or ten minutes, and flesh out the thinking behind that idea. Use a notebook, digital device, scrap of paper, whatever. But, if it is written down in the moment of inspiration, the more likely you are to hold on to all the details.

After hearing this brilliant idea, I put it into practice. I started traveling with a thin, teal notebook that could fit anywhere. 

Carry-Everywhere Notebook

When an idea for my blog writing or an idea for my professional writing comes to me, I immediately get out this notebook, and start sketching out thoughts, words, and phrases about the topic. As other thoughts might come to me, I add them. But those first 10- 15 minutes of brainstorming what was in my head are critical. Somehow, putting those words on paper "cements" them for me - gives them a longevity they might not otherwise have.

Then, when I am ready to write fully, and elaborate on this original thinking, I have great resources for the original thinking. This makes producing a piece of writing so much simpler, and I don't feel frustrated that I've left out important parts that mattered to me.

Try carrying a notebook around with you and writing in it immediately when ideas come to you.  

On the below notebook page you can see the notes I took after I had visited a personal trainer.  I made many connections with how they analyzed/got to know me, and the ways in which we teachers get to know students. Bottom line, all of us are way more than just a number.

Click to Enlarge this Notebook Page

Karen Terlecky has been been teaching for almost thirty years. She has worked in many different roles during her educational career. She started as a middle school learning disabilities / behavior disorders teacher, then transitioned to teaching a developmentally handicapped class in an elementary school for six years, and worked with students with hearing impairments as well. 

In 1986, she was hired by the district in which she currently works as a fourth grade classroom teacher. Since that time, she has had an opportunity to work as an intervention specialist, third grade teacher, and she now works as an intermediate literacy coach. Karen is featured on the Choice Literacy DVD, TWO WORKSHOPS: CONTRASTING PRIMARY AND INTERMEDIATE LITERACY WORKSHOPS and blogs at

To go back to the list of all Try This! ideas, click HERE.
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  1. I travel with a little notebook in my purse and now when I go for walks, I take my phone so I can use the notes when inspiration hits. Great advice.

  2. I agree! I always get ideas when I'm driving, biking, paddleboarding or cooking dinner. Never when I'm sitting at the table ready to write!


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