The nice thing about writing lyrics is that I can do it anywhere. As long as somebody else's music isn't playing in the background, I'm free to piece words together while I wash dishes, do laundry, or walk to the store. Because I write slowly, just a little at a time, it's easy to remember what I've done until I have access to a computer, or a pen and paper.
Writing music is different. For whatever reason, a new musical phrase is more apt to flee from my memory if I don't record it right away. Sometimes it comes back, but it does so on its own time, and quite often when, once again, I don't have the ability to get it down.
This usually isn't a problem for me. When it comes to piano accompaniments and solos, I compose more with my hands than my head. For whatever reason, I do better when I'm sitting at the piano and playing, and I always have a little recorder handy when I'm at the piano.
Every now and then, though, a solo that's been eluding me begins to gain momentum. That's when it becomes dangerous. I play what I have over and over again in my mind, fingers working an imaginary keyboard, obsessively trying to fill in the missing parts. Occasionally I have a good idea. But if I'm not where I can record or notate that idea, I have to keep the idea on repeat or risk losing it.
I did manage to get tonight's musical phrase down before it disappeared on me. Still, maybe I should remind myself to think about other things while I'm in the shower.