Most writers agree that some of their greatest moments of inspiration come while they’re driving, or showering, or right before drifting off to sleep.
What do these three things have in common? The struggle of writing down these ideas at that particular moment is tantamount to rebuilding the eiffel tower with toothpicks.
I’ve often wondered about the oddity of this. Why does our inspiration come at such inconvenient times? Is it a cruel trick? The twisted humor of irony?
Clearly, this wasn’t the problem for the classic authors. Shakespear didn’t have a shower in which to be struck with inspirational lightning, let alone a car. I guess the edge-of-sleep dilemma still existed for him.
But let me point out something else these three locations and moments have in common: we are often doing nothing else other than thinking. You can’t multitask while you sleep, so your brain is fully committed to thinking. You shouldn’t multitask while you drive (but we all do), yet your brain is still committed to thinking and daydreaming more than average. As for the shower? Well, it’s instant recipe for thinking and relaxation…and cleanliness! What better place could exist for infusion of thought?
Here’s what I’m getting at: would we see this same result if we committed some of our “writing time” to thinking? Just laying on that couch by the fire with nothing but your own brain for company?
We’ve all heard the “slow down!” mantra in order to appreciate life. This isn’t one of those. As much as we’re told to slow down, in today’s culture that’s rarely realistic. What I’m saying, is that perhaps when we block out writing time we could also block out a little thinking time.
Maybe it won’t work. I don’t know. I haven’t tested it yet. But surely it’d be easier than scrambling to find paper and a pencil in the dark when your real desire is to drift off and catch those rare hours of sleep.
Recently, I’ve tried to find a recipe to let me slow down yet do the same amount of work. No, it’s not an oxymoron. Instead of driving somewhere, I’ll walk there with a notebook and pen. Instead of typing out scenes as they pop into my mind, I write them (yes, by hand, the old-school way) to make myself think through them slower.
And everything comes out just a smidge clearer.
Maybe it’s because of how my brain works and this wouldn’t apply to you, but it’s worth a try, don’t you think? The main point of this post is…how can we make sure we’re pushing our imaginations to the limits? How can we make sure we capture those brilliant ideas that might change the entire course of our writing?
We can’t afford to waste them.
We can’t afford to lose them.
Do you have any tricks for remembering ideas that come at inconvenient times?