As a writer it’s not often you get those really great story ideas.A picture, a look of a passer-by, a line someone said, or something completely random has triggered something in you and bam! Congratulations you’ve just been inspired.
Words, pictures, a whole alternate universe is rushing into your head. You see the hero/heroine and the storyline clearly in your head and, God help you, you’re smitten.
These are the kind of ideas you know people will relate to; you are sure they will love the story and the characters involved. The only thing you need to do now is to jot anything that comes to your mind. It could be a summary of the plot, or some characteristics in the personality of the characters, the goals, the difficulties and the situations need to be overcome. These ideas need to be written right in the moment they are conceived while everything is still rushing. You are sure not everything is going to make sense once you are done, but you are not the writer right then, you are the reporter. And as every reporter will tell you when you are at the heart of the event you must take notes of everything, you can’t take mental notes. Mental notes can’t be trusted. Can you imagine a reporter taking mental note during a politician’s speech? Sure he/she will remember what was it all about later but the article will undoubtedly be lacking.
While no one will judge a reporter taking notes during an event, I bet it would look quite odd if you saw someone stopping whatever one was doing and started feverishly taking notes in some notepad. But looking a bit loony is not what worries a writer, what worries him/her is if this great idea, this storm of thoughts, comes and goes and he/she is, in one way or another, unable to take any notes. Yes, later on the writer can remember what the idea was about, but like the reporter taking mental notes, his notes will be lacking.
I must say though, one advantage a writer has over the reporter is that after several brainstorming sessions, he/she should be able to retrieve a lot of the initial inspiration, but this is not certain. When this happens to me, sometimes it will take me a couple of brainstorming sessions to retrieve everything; other times it would take me a couple of weeks. There are a few times it took me months to remember everything. And there are a couple of ideas that for the love of everything this Earth has to offer, I can’t remember what they were about. They are just lost. Like the times you wake up from a really good dream, but you can’t remember what was about.
Anyways, I think I have proved how vital is taking notes but then there is timing to take into consideration and timing is not always on your side. Actually it rarely is when inspiration hits me. Let me illustrate:
1. The time my hands are tied. Not literarily of course, but like when my mom and I are helping my old grandma up the stairs because there’s no elevator. While I contemplate possibly about the sorrows of life, or more realistically about the show on TV that I am missing, damn it, I get inspired. I am not going to leave my grandma alone with my mom, and of course there are a lot of stairs left and my grandma takes a whole two minutes on each step. Not because she is in pain but because she has to be told there is a step at each and every step. Then she has to think about it, agree there is a step and finally make that step. This is not by far the worst case scenario, up to half an hour later I can go write. But what about the time…
2. There is an emotional emergency. Imagine your best friend crying on your shoulder over losing her job, finding her love of her life cheating on her and her parents blame her for it. Your heart is broken over her situation. She has no self-esteem left in her. You just want to pick her up, make her believe everything is going to be alright and teach everyone who has been a jerk to her a lesson. That would make a great story. Shit! NO! I can’t be inspired right now! Inspired by true events… No! No! No! I am a terrible friend. Up to three-four hours later I go home and I feel too guilty to write about any of the writing ideas I got while consoling my friend, so I just let it go, or postpone it for years to come, when we are possibly not friends anymore. I do write about something else though, but sometimes there’s the nightmare of…
3. A Sleepy writer. Since I was sixteen, it’s been like a ritual of mine to make time to write right before it’s time to sleep. This is a great exercise for me, when the house is quiet I really get the chance to clear my head. By the time I can’t keep my eyelids open, I have jotted ideas for books, written a short story or edited the same poem I have been editing since I was sixteen. In short I’ve paid my dues to the literary world and owe nothing more. Right then, I just want to sleep. As I close my eyelids blissfully slipping into the dream world, an awesome writing idea comes to me. I just want to scream, “Oh fate, what do you want from me?” Sometimes I do take notes before I finally fall asleep, but then wake up with pen still in hand and ink stains on my face, pillow and sheets. Joking aside, the best writing ideas come when you are writing. You can be writing anything, from a diary entry to a blog post and you will get the best ideas, but what if…
4. You get Inspired for a story while you are already getting inspired for different story. So you have been illuminated at the right time and fictional universes are getting created on your laptop. You are typing faster that you thought possible, and you are just catching up with the flow of ideas. No distractions. Life is good! Then one of the characters being formed makes a special connection with you, and it all spins out of control as you think of a beautiful side story that HAS to be told. What do you do? You jam? You try to write both? Or ignore the latest until you have given the first your full attention? Yeah you can’t have it all.
These are few of a writer’s trials, which are kind of positive. Getting inspired at the right time is much better that those two fearful words: Writer’s Block.