For years on my daily morning walks I carried small notebooks and a pen for ideas about stories, homeschooling, etc. Even though I obviously know the value of the spoken word, (being an oral tradition storyteller), for some reason I felt better about writing the notes. Until one day my walking cohort, Sharon, basically told me I was crazy to not use a digital recorder—how can you possibly write as fast as you think…and walk at the same time?

I had my system and was reluctant to change.  It’s one thing to leaf through a cute little stack of colorful Moleskines, and even though I can’t read them sometimes,  I like my pages of “chicken scratch”, as my dad would say. But this recorded business seemed like much more work: batteries, ear buds, wrestling with that devilish little white cord and THEN…remembering where the heck those valuable messages ended up in an unfathomable digital galaxy, floating around with hours and hours of other stuff I forgot I’d thought or said.

“Anita—you’re so
on top of it,
you’re under it.”
— a friend

All that changed when I decided to interview my characters. Maybe I just like talking to myself, but I really got into verbalizing the ideas. Notebooks turned into audiologs to index messages. In play back, the immediacy of “our” voices, cadence, and reflection  helps dialog ring true.

So I make the digital recorder thing work because of good results in the end, but to be honest—I missed my note books, and for somebody who’s so on top of it, I’m under it,  it’s easier to crawl out from under a stack of notebooks than hitchhike to and  from Digiland. So I now do both, and that suits me fine.

Here’s an essay I wrote on interviewing characters:

The Waiting Room
By Anita Gail Jones

Anyone who says writing is a lonely business has never spent time with a roomful of hardheaded fictional folk bent on having their way. Unlike boring, predictable humans – and for the sake of story, conflict and change – characters are ego-trippers  that writers must turn into minions with omnipotent appeal. This is at best a neurotic, symbiotic relationship. However, over the past decade one of my characters helped me find a sane way of working together, discovered during early morning walks. Continue reading…