Flashes of inspiration are not few and far between for me. I’m constantly inspired by the world around me – things I read, things I see, things I hear. Ideas fly at me from all over the place. I’m an ideas kind of person.
This should be great news, right?
Except that this flow of information always comes in…and then flits away into the recesses of my brain, never to be heard from again.
I’ll be reading a passage in a book and start analyzing what’s going on and think “WAIT! I have an idea! What if the world is dying, but it’s because of x. And y is the only one who can fight x. And if y does z in this really interesting and unique way…I could make a really interesting story.” Then I’ll nod to myself, acknowledge my genius, and file it away for a more convenient time when I can flesh out the idea, returning my attention to the book or task at hand.
You know where this is going don’t you? Of course you do. Because unlike me, you are not an idiot. You are a smart, organized, “with it” guy or gal who knows better than to let ideas sink into the deep, dark parts of your (presumably human) brains without jotting a backup note to yourself.
I, however, am an idiot. I let these ideas roam unchecked through my grey matter, and
hardly ever never take the time to write them down. I assume that my addled, aging mind will miraculously change course and start remembering more than it forgets, so OF COURSE I will remember every single one of these amazing, fleeting ideas and OF COURSE they will take precedence over the far less important list of Things To Remember like mere work or family engagements.
After struggling for the past two months with crippling writer’s block, on Monday I was hit with an idea not just for a vague project in the future, but for the book I’m working on now. And as much as I wanted to just keep reading my book on the train, I decided that since my purse was right in front of me, I should grab a scrap of paper and a pen and just WRITE IT DOWN.
So I did.
And then I went back to reading.
When I got home, got myself and the dog fed, I whipped out that piece of paper and my laptop, and BOOM. The scenes started flowing. The words poured onto the page. Before I knew what hit me, I had 1,600 words down, and a solid sense of direction for the next few scenes to follow.
An obvious lesson, yes, but an important one nonetheless. When I have these ideas, I need to write them down. Immediately. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – eating, reading, sleeping, talking on the phone, writing a blog post – just WRITE IT DOWN.
Logan. You need a notebook.
You need to write it down.