Running is one of the best ways I've found to percolate ideas from the recesses of my brain to words on a page. As activities go, it's a writer's best friend. But those runs can be long. A lot of ideas can come to me in an hour. With no way to write them down as I'm on the move, I turn to short term memorization. I make a little story of keywords and memorize that story as a single sentence, adding details to the story as new ideas come to me, until I return from my run, commit my story sentence to paper in shorthand, and then decode my notes, unpacking them in long form, usually on a computer. Here's an example from yesterday:
Can't read my writing? What's the matter with you?
Okay, here is a transcription, with explanation to follow:
"Riding in on a dazzling pillow turtle painted apple and broccoli, to the clock tower for a Stentigram; then I wrote a blog post -- AGA smile!" (I blame this ungrammatical sentence on my boneheaded decision to run beneath a blazing afternoon sun that pushed temps to the mid nineties. My mind sort of melted, and the words came out wrong.)
No, my story sentence is not compelling in any traditional way, but I found it memorable enough to stick in my mind over 7 miles of local running trails. With it, I was able to capture and carry 10 ideas generated on the go.
Can you guess which of the words in the example story sentence are key words?
Dazzling: This key word I chose to help me remember a "Daily Thought" I conceived of: "Dazzle them with similar wrapped in different."
Pillow: To remind me of a plot point to include in my novel-in-progress.
Turtle: For a Facebook post idea, about a turtle I almost stepped on along a running trail.
Apple and Broccoli: For a new habit idea, to allow myself no calories each day until I have eaten an apple and some broccoli.
Clock Tower: Another novel plot point.
Stentigram: A coined word combining the words "stentorian" (denoting another plot point idea) and "Instagram" (to remind me to post a request for beta readers for my new novel).
Blog Post: To remind myself to write not this post but a subsequent one...
AGA: An acronym for that blog post's concept: "Anchor chart Google Approach."
Smile: Another Daily Thought: "My smile needs nothing from you."
I hope you will give this a try anytime you have multiple ideas and no place to put them. It takes practice to piece together an increasingly lengthy and absurd story mnemonic, but it gets easier -- and I trust you will find it well worth the productivity dividends you soon accrue.
BONUS: Photos of another example, including five pages of decoded notes after the story sentence, transcribed in the car immediately after a run.
Writer, reader, runner, teacher, father, infp, huffleclaw.