Thursday, 8 July 2010

AlphaThoughts – When inspiration strikes

Today, I am irritated with myself.

Yesterday at work, I was emailing a fellow blogger about writing.  Out of nowhere, an idea for a story hit me.  I remembered the old writer’s lesson: to always write ideas down, because however much you think you’re going to remember them, they can flutter away just as easily as they landed in your mind.

I’m not sure whether the idea was suitable for a short story, or for being worked into my current novel – or maybe even merited a future novel in its own right.  Why am I not sure about this?  Because, like a fool, I ignored my learnt instinct.

I didn’t write it down.  Today, I thought, ‘Ooh, I came up with a good story idea yesterday, what was that?’  Cue: slow, dawning realisation that I couldn’t remember it.  I have just re-read the emails that originally triggered it, but to no avail.  The flit is complete – the idea is gone.

The chick
This makes me feel pretty unfledged as a writer.  AlphaBloke would tell you that I have a bed-side table full of ‘How to Write’ style books, and rules such as this crop up in the vast majority of them.  As writers, we are exhorted to carry a notepad with us wherever we go, to record these precious droplets of inspiration.  I adapted this while at work, and for a long time I would email myself whenever I had an idea that might possibly have mileage.  The traffic from my work to my personal email address became bizarre – emails of a few words or links to weird and wonderful stories on the web.  I have just opened one at random from this period and it says ‘Sinister nursery’.  Odd, yes!  But enough for me to recall what that idea was all about.

But somewhere along the way I have forgotten to do this.  I have decided that my memory is invincible and knows no bounds.  The idea I’ve lost was probably not all that.  But it just might have been genius, and that is what is making me beat myself up.

It occurs to me that this is one way we can and should utilise your internal editor.  We should allow our left brain to kick in, when the right brain has an inspiration, and let it insist upon us writing it down.  I put my editor back in its box a few days ago...perhaps its absence yesterday is now punishing me...

If any writers have other good ways of recording ideas, or stories of ideas lost and somehow found again (I wish!), please do share them with me.

Bad AlphaChick.  Off to dig a notepad out of the drawer and install it in my handbag…


  1. Yep, you gotta capture those nuggets as soon as they appear. Otherwise you have that sensation of making the same point, but with no real literary aplomb!

  2. Too true Joe! The notepad can also be utilised as a handy blog 'good phrases for later use' recorder...