Ideas keep popping into my head while I walk, so I have a tiny memo book to jot down my thoughts. However, there's no room for my writing hand to use all the available space, I write really messily with my writing hand in the air and the pencil tip as the only point of contact, and my supporting hand keeps moving around and getting pushed back. Any tips and advice?

EDIT: Sorry, I should have mentioned this way earlier; I don't own a smartphone and am looking for an analog solution! I also prefer writing by hand; for some reason, it helps me think more creatively.

5 Answers 5


I’ve spent much of my working life having to make notes on big, flappy plans or small, hand-held notebooks, so this comes with a degree of personal experience.

Consider a slightly-larger-than-tiny memo book?

Learn to tuck the book-holding arm against your body to stop that hand ‘moving around and getting pushed back’, but also think about angling that notebook in whichever way makes writing easiest, maybe with the bottom of the page angled with its left corner towards you and the right at 45°. Experiment, but don’t assume that flat and square like a desk is best. I find that tucking that bottom left corner of the book against my body helps to brace it.

Try a fibre-tip pen rather than a pencil so that you don’t have to press as hard on the point. Or get a very soft pencil.

Don’t try and write while you walk, step aside out of the footway so you don’t get jostled.

Try to learn shorthand or devise your own version. That would limit the amount of writing.

Practice handwriting in a relaxed way; much of the movement should come from your shoulder and upper arm rather than wrist and fingers. If you can master that, having little space to rest your hand will matter less. This blog has some good explanations and exercises. Eg

To get a feel for the proper muscles (and start training them correctly), hold your arm out in front of you, elbow bent, and write in the air. Write big. Use your arm and shoulder to shape letters; hold your forearm, wrist and fingers stationary and in writing position. You’ll feel your shoulder, arm, chest and some back muscles doing most of the work. That’s good. That’s what they’re supposed to do. Try to duplicate it each time you practice.

Write in the air until it becomes as natural as breathing. It’ll be awkward and feel silly at first.

Above all, remember that your notes only need to be legible to you, you don’t need to win handwriting competitions with them. But make it a habit to transcribe the notes as soon as possible, while you still remember what your scribbles meant!

  • Thanks for the analog answer! To others: I'm sorry for not being clear! I totally forgot that most people used smartphones for notes and that I'm one of the few that choose the "dumb life" :) Any other analog "standing up" solutions are welcome below! Jan 2, 2018 at 5:55

I usually have the same problem. What I'd do is get a notebook with a hard cover, or just find a wall or something.

  • Simple, but more or less what I was thinking. I would also suggest a cell phone if you have one. Most seem to have a 'note-taking' app which is convenient for this, and you can easily type with one hand if necessary. You can likely also speak your notes, although some things might get lost in translation. Dec 28, 2017 at 0:11
  • Yes, but the elderly might want the notebook, but the cell phone would be a great tool too! Dec 28, 2017 at 0:28
  • Thanks! My memo book is hard enough to write on; it's more of a question of space. A wall is great when I find one; I just need to avoid straining my neck and back. The app idea's nice, but I use a dumb phone, and it's hard to take notes and look up notes on it X( I also prefer handwritten notes for ideas to arrange them in other ways. Dec 28, 2017 at 0:53
  • 1
    In that case, the voice recorder would be ideal, but if you don't have the proper phone, then try finding a nearby cafe or store before your idea runs out. They would probably have tables and chairs. If not, then I'd suggest a fence. The top could be flat enough to write on, and it could replace a table if it's tall enough. Dec 28, 2017 at 14:37

(I just noticed Thomas Myron's comment on CherryPlaysRoblox's answer. It makes most of my answer a duplicate)

I have an app on my smartphone which performs the same function as a micro-recorder. When I get an idea worth note-taking, I start the app and speak my notes into it as if I were on a phone call.

In the absence of a smart phone, an actual micro voice recorder would serve the same purpose.

  • Something I've considered :) I bought and carried a voice recorder, but I'm always afraid to take it out for fear of people listening to me. Still, maybe I should just get over that fear. Dec 28, 2017 at 0:57
  • Hah! Maybe they can learn from your ideas? Dec 28, 2017 at 14:38

The voice-recorder suggestion is probably the ideal, but if you're generally in an environment where you can't use that, you might try a note-taking app on your smartphone, if you have one.

Evernote's free version is good, and it's the first one that comes to mind, but there are plenty of alternatives, and if you don't want the bother of finding something, most phones have a "memos" app or similar built in.

Lots of people find typing on a smartphone clumsy, especially for anything longer than a text message, but I've found that my writing speed improved dramatically with time. You might also want to look at any custom software keyboards available for your phone, since those help as well.

Most note-taking apps have the added benefit of keeping a backup of your notes, in case you lose them, and many also allow you to access them from your computer as well, which can be helpful if you use your computer to write. Many also allow voice recording as well; sort of a best of both worlds.


The smartphone app is a great thing, particularly if you can couple it with a Bluetooth device. This allows you to seem to be talking on the phone and not freak out people around you. That is, be careful, people WILL hear what you are saying... Don't use this to write erotica, graphic violence, etc. But if you are taking notes, then that works well.

I had something like that in the car and it is pretty cool to "write" while in traffic...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.