Thursday, September 22, 2005

Note Bene

If you’re anything like me (and God help you if you are), you’ll be doing something completely ordinary and menial when the idea first hits you. The great “what if” story idea that has eluded you for months. It’s a spark so combustible that the basic plot practically writes itself.

Then you suddenly realize that this flash of entertainment industry brilliance is like most any other idea…so fleeting and transitory that you have to record it – NOW! Hurry up and get that shit on paper or on a voice recorder or something! C’mon, just drop what you’re doing and jot it down. You won’t remember it later. Hell, you won’t remember it in the next five minutes.

But what should you use? You’re nowhere near your computer. What’s the best way to record the nugget that might lead to your first bought and sold screenplay? Quickly, you consider the options:

  1. Paper. Easy enough, right? But do you have paper on you right at this moment? Even if you did, you got something to write it down with? I can’t carry pencils in my pocket. Whenever I sit down, either the lead breaks or I get stabbed in the ass with the wooden hypo of black graphite in my jeans. Pens? Forget it. Pens leak and mess up clothes. Besides, I have children in my house. They eat writing utensils when you’re not looking and hide the ones that taste nasty.
  2. PDA. You could write it down on a PDA. Palm, Pocket PC, whatever. That seems like a good choice. You’ll be writing on your computer anyway. You can just copy and paste that sucker and zoom, you’re off! But have you ever tried to write down anything on a PDA? I’m sure there are some out there who are true “Graffiti artists”, able to wield a stylus like a conductor. But, I’ve never been able to write so much as a sentence without having to go back and rewrite it twice as many times. I guess I should get used to doing rewrites, right?
  3. Voice Recorder. Yeah, you could just grab the voice recorder and tell yourself your idea. Like some kind of self-pitching session. But before you do, look around. Are you surrounded by people? Now consider the guy jabbing away on his cell phone in front of you in the grocery store yesterday. Arrogant little prick, wasn’t he? You don’t want to be like him, do you? Of course you don’t. Anyway, you’ll have to listen to your own pathetic voice again when you transcribe this fantastic idea. And the more you listen to yourself ramble on, the less fantastic this idea suddenly seems.

By the time you’ve considered the options, the moment of genius has passed. The spark is gone and your idea, once brilliant, is now a rapidly fading memory as the current task at hand takes precedence. Or your four-year-old wants to start up a rousing theological discussion about whether bunnies go to a different heaven than people. Or the dog has just knocked over something in the kitchen.

My solution? The Hipster PDA. It’s a stack of index cards. What could be more perfect for a screenwriter?