It's one of the most over-used pieces of advice for any aspiring or new writer: Carry a notebook!
As soon as I began to take my dreams seriously, I tucked a small notebook in my handbag, and a pen that worked (never mind that it frequently gets used by some mini-person who needs distracting). I kept one at home too, and regularly distilled the one into the other, although I think I have some remaining organisational issues.
So why, then, do I keep blinking and finding thoughts gone? Twice lately I've had ideas and failed to write them down, believing I would definitely remember this till I got home (to be fair to myself, once I was driving, and it is generally frowned upon to rummage for your notebook and take notes while hurtling along a dual carriageway). Do I need to even say that when I got home, my memory was bare?
Then, I keep talking about my plan to write a short story each month in 2013 (all being well). I wrote the beginning of a story in the shower this morning. (The shower is a blissful little cubicle of peace in my house. The children follow me into the bathroom, but don't venture in the shower with me. They hop up and down outside the glass, begging me to wipe the steam, but it's surprising how that steamy glass can buffer you psychologically from the noise and demands of a three year old who wants to know if you're going to fetch him a banana soon; or the five year old who needs to complain with great indignation that his sister says she isn't afraid of money spiders, when for her whole life before this moment, right now, she has said she's scared of all spiders, so could you please come and tell her she's wrong about not minding little ones? I kid you not. If only all problems were so minor).
So I was enjoying my ten minutes of peace and almost-quiet, and the story was rolling along bee-yoo-tifully, the way stories in embryo form often do. Ideas sparked and fizzed, character motivations popped into my mind fully formed and perfectly fit. As soon as everyone was in bed, I sat down and started to scribble so fast that my fingers cramped. About three paragraphs in, I began to falter; I was losing that vision. The simple lines I'd come up with had somehow got knotted up, and I found myself lost.
How can I alter this? Is it simply that when a thing is nebulous as a thought, it appears (deceptively) to be wonderful? Or is it that the first idea gets a little choked by the new thoughts that occur at a later time? Would climbing out of the shower and committing it all to paper immediately have helped, or would that have caused the idea to abort in the first place?
Next time, I shall try writing it down sooner, and see what happens - but if anyone wants to create a waterproof notebook so I can start to carry a notebook at ALL times, let me know...