I’ve smashed quite a few iPhones in my lifetime. One got ran over by my car. Another went face first onto the pool deck when I drunkenly tripped over a float shaped like a dinosaur. The most recent damage happened in a freak accident—I dropped my phone the exact same time someone was lifting a chair with an iron foot. Cracked it right down the center.
These incidents probably could have been avoided if I wasn’t so attached to having my iPhone in my hand, but the truth is it’s hard for me to put it down. I like to text with my friends. I like picking up the phone when my mom calls. I like to check my Facebook and my Twitter.
But most of all, I’m worried that if I put it down, I will miss the opportunity to document things the moment they happen.
The Notes app is the ultimate sidekick for a nonfiction writer. I try to be hyper-aware of my surroundings and conversations, but memory can only offer so much when you sit down in front of a blank page. So I turn to my Notes. When I’m out, or just at home observing, I write anything that strikes me as having potential in a piece, even if it’s just a sentence. Here are some of the things that I’ve documented over the last year:
September 16, 2015, 1:23am: “Hey, you know I’m like a shoe polisher, right?” – Random guy at the bar
August 30, 2015, 6:42pm: “I’m jealous of Jupiter, with all of its moons.” – Grant, poet in MFA program
July 13, 2015, 2:37am: “My daughter is about your age!” – Stripper at Rachel’s to my friend Jessica
July 9, 2015, 11:39pm: Potential Thesis Title: Cauliflower Mash and Getting Smashed
July 1, 2015, 8:33pm: “Some of my best memories are at Sam’s Club” – my boyfriend
June 6, 2015, 7:37pm: Potential names for our funk band: Funk in the Trunk, Funk Me Sideways, Funkapotomas, Slam Funk, Funk Buddies, Nobody Puts Funk in a Corner, Thelonius Funk, Taking Back Funkday, You Funked My Battleship, Snuffunklufagus, Drunk as Funk
May 31, 2015, 1:16pm: “Fuck, I used to love Petey Pablo” – my roommate, Johnny
January 31, 2015, 6:11pm: “You just got a tattoo” – me, to myself
Believe it or not, a good majority of these will make it into my thesis. A couple of them might even inspire whole new pieces. They are absolutely, unquestionably true. And there is no chance I would remember any of these quotes exactly, or even the times in my life that these things happened (even if I did remember the quotes), without writing them down. I’ve found that reading just one quote, just one sentence, can trigger the memory of an entire day that would have likely been lost.
What I’m saying is not to always be on your phone (as I’m often mistaken for texting when I’m actually fully engaged in the Notes app) but to write if you feel the urge, no matter where you are, no matter who you are with. Before I was using my phone to document everything, I often wrote in a small notebook or on napkins or even on my own arms. I made writing moments, even the most mundane or seemingly unexceptional moments, a habit, and that habit has propelled a lot of my writing. I’m sure this is a habit for many writers. I’m not here to tell you I’m special, or that this is an original idea. I’m just here to tell you to find your writing habit. To write unabashedly. To write something every day. Even if it’s just a sentence.
Alexis Senior is a Literary Nonfiction candidate working on her thesis and constantly roaming the country for inspiration. After graduating from UCF with a BA in Creative Writing, Alexis worked as an editor for Orlando Magazine and currently writes cookbooks as a content writer at Tupperware. Bottom line—she’s always writing something.