Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea forever.
At first glance, that looks like pretty good advice. But after a moment's reflection, I'm not so sure. While I've been known to carry notebooks, and have sometimes found myself scrambling for paper and pen because I was not carrying a notebook, I believe Mr. Self should rethink emphasizing that always.
Imagination is not a river that runs dry. It may flow swiftly at some times and sluggishly at others, but it's always there to draw from as long as a writer can calm her nerves and discipline herself to stop whining about being "blocked" and just sit down and write something, anything, even if it's garbage. Because even when our writing is garbage, that garbage comes straight from our imaginations. And we'll have plenty of opportunities to clean it up as we continue to hammer out our stories.
I agree that it's a good idea for a writer to carry a notebook. After all, she might be standing in the checkout line at a grocery store when she's struck by a fantastic idea for Chapter Three. And if she's unable to write it down, she might forget it before she gets home. But I disagree with Mr. Self's assertion that a writer must always carry a notebook and his implication that it's such a terrible, terrible thing to lose an idea.
I'll admit to being annoyed when I've lost ideas. Just yesterday morning, I lost one because I was in the shower and didn't have a Moleskine notebook handy and I didn't want to jump out and run for one without first rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. But it was no big deal, really. As someone who exercises her imagination on a daily basis, I know good ideas are a dime a dozen. So what if I lose one now and then? Another one will be along in a minute or two, and it might even be better than the one I lost in the shower.
I'm not saying writers shouldn't carry notebooks. I'm just saying we shouldn't obsess over having pen and paper handy at every moment of the day. Because nothing hampers creativity more effectively than the fear of losing it.