I’ve discussed previously about where I can find my ideas, how bizarre and compelling images can work their way to the front of my mind during dreams, inspired by pictures or from the depths of a drink addled haze.
But what happens when the strike of inspiration hits at a less than opportune moment?
Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam when you have a great idea?
Just nodding off when a problem that’s been bugging you resolves itself only for the solution to flutter away when you wake up?
Using the bathroom?
As you may have guessed, I came up with the idea for this post in one of the above fashions but that wasn’t the only idea I’ve had which have come at a time where I’ve had to work hard to keep it in my head while the seconds tick by to allow me the chance to act on it.
I’ve had the lightning strike moment when I’ve been at work (happened several times), in conventions, at the pub with friends, at the pub on my own and so many others when I haven’t had any way to record it. There’s been no paper about to write on, no computer to send myself an e-mail and no way for me to record for later consumption, leaving me with the singular option of having to try and remember the nugget of an idea for as long as it takes before I can make a note of it.
I know that, despite my best efforts, I have lost so many possible plot points, dramatic twists and narrative gold that I could potentially have planned out a whole novel.
The earlier days of my writing adventure saw a huge number of moments when I was stuck with the knowledge that, yet again, another idea had been lost.
Yes, it was frustrating. No, I did not learn my lesson quickly. Yes, I did swear on more than one occasion.
But eventually, the penny dropped.
I couldn’t just rely on being able to maintain total recall of every detail that ever wandered through my head. Instead, I had to do something about it.
I have a small collection of notebooks that I carry around with me which are filled with snippets of ideas, possibilities of where the story could go and how it could get there. I have taken a hardback notebook on holiday with me just in case the storm clouds of imagination gather as I lay by the pool. It’s chock full of ideas for future books and I’ve enjoyed playing with the ideas, safe in the knowledge that I can relax and just let them flow without walking the tightrope of losing them forever.
When I write, when I do anything towards my books, I love swimming through the worlds I’m creating, just throwing myself into everything and I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of the planning phase, but I have been forced to take action. I’m trying to do my best to turn my natural dislike for the ‘boring’ bits into a positive focus where I push forwards in every possible way for the good of the story as a whole.
The importance of the unseen work to make sure of the best results is not letting any idea get away. My notebooks hold lots of things I may never use but there could always be the little detail which bolts everything together perfectly.
Dealing with the lightning strike is akin to the swan’s legs, making sure the swan looks beautiful and calm despite all the hard work.