The Inconvenience of Inspiration


This morning inspiration struck while I was in the shower. I quickly dried off, threw on my robe and ran to the office where Mr. Ng was sitting at my laptop. “I have a thought!” I called out. “I need to write!” “I’m looking for work!” my husband called back, “work trumps thoughts. ” I rummaged around the office until I found a pen and Post It to write down my brilliant idea so I wouldn’t forget. Inspiration shouldn’t get in the way of an recently laid off man on a mission.

Have you ever noticed how you get the best ideas when you’re no where near a laptop or paper and pen? I have notepads in every bag and on almost every surface, but I don’t get ideas when tools are at the ready.

Plenty of ideas come when I’m sleeping, though. Yes, I have a notebook and pen on my nightstand, but to write down my thoughts is to turn on the light and wake Mr. Ng. I try to avoid this at all costs. Spending time with Captain Cranklypants isn’t conducive to a good brainstorming session. Instead I fumbled around and stumble around until I find a place where I can write without rousing the family, except by then it’s usually too late and I lose it. Sleepy inspiration is easily lost.

I’m not sure if you know this but the local police don’t take too kindly to side of the road brainstorming, even when showing good driving etiquette by putting on your hazard lights. I can tell you from experience, “Honestly Officer, I only pulled over on the side of this busy freeway because I needed to write down my ideas so I won’t forget,” won’t always fly. Inspiration is inconvenient and can cause tickets.

I remember riding home from a visit with the in laws in Queens one evening when inspiration hit. I had the perfect lead in to an article bouncing around in my head. I searched my purse, my son’s stash and the car to no avail. Not wanting to lose the sentence I repeated it over and over like a mantra. Soon my son was playing along. Mr. Ng in the driver’s seat wasn’t so amused. By the time I got home and wrote down my sentence I was over it. Inspiration is so inconvenient.

Then there was the time at a meeting of a local women’s group. It was the first meeting of the season and I, as the President, had door duty so I could greet our esteemed guests and members. On my drive over, a light bulb went off in my head and I wrote my idea on the palm of my hand during a traffic light stop. I planned on transferring my brilliant idea into a notebook when I got to the clubhouse, but  I forgot. By the time I remembered, I had spent an hour shaking hands and the words were gone. To this day, I’m not sure the Mayor knows what happened to her hand. Inspiration causes blue handshakes.

I can tell you I’m always prepared for when the light bulbs go off. I can also tell you the light bulbs mostly go off during the rare occasions when they I’m not so prepared. I’ve talked into a tape recorder at the supermarket, wrote on a napkin in a restaurant and even sullied the blank last page of a paperback book I was reading on the subway, all in the name of inspiration.

Inspiration is so inconvenient, but it’s ever so rewarding.






13 responses
  1. Nicole @ Rainy-Day Saver Avatar

    I know the feeling of having a must-write-down-immediately thought, and I keep pens/paper everywhere, too. I even carry around a small voice recorder at times!

  2. Heath Avatar

    I always, ALWAYS have a moleskin notebook in my back pocket for this reason. I always get hit with ideas at night and do my writing during the day, so I am never at my desk when inspiration hits. Whenever anyone starts asking me about writing I say: “Step 1: Write every day and Step 2: carry an ideas notebook everywhere”

  3. Kevin Avatar

    More like this, Deb. Please???

    I remember your humor column from a few a years back. You were very good with it. I hope you’ll bring more of your brand of humor to FWJ.

  4. margiewrites Avatar

    I can so relate. I write the beginnings of poems on the backs of receipts and type out notes to myself and save them as drafts in my Gmail. I get inspiration in the shower, too. It flows too quickly to write it down — and then I fear it will be lost forever. It does sound like you could benefit from using some kind of voice recorder so you can record your inspiration quicker. I need to get one myself!

  5. Linda Faulkner Avatar

    My solution to experiencing the inconvenience of inspiration is to purchase a cell phone that has a voice memo option. Of course, remembering to keep the darn phone charged at all times is a separate challenge!

  6. David Avatar

    Pens that have lights in them at my bedstand and a “tap-it” mini light as well. Greasepencil in the shower that writes on tile… a dry erase pen next to my mirror in the bathroom and a digital recorder attached in a cup under my steeringwheel column in the car…and back ups of everything in the same ares just in case….and lol.. Im not even a writer. I just hate forgetting ideas. But a digital recorder is a lovely thing to keep around. At night you can whisper into it, or, if its one of those cant sleep and keep comingup with ideas… set it to voice activate and put it next to you and talk when you need to… it can also catch some pretty amusing dream talk and snores…lol
    Great article.

  7. JulieF Avatar

    I have odd ways of remembering things. Friend of mine, (excuse the plug here- Stacey Graham who was just published in the Hungry for Your Love zombie romance anthology by Ravenous Romance)- has gotten really weird emails from me. Things like- “Oh god, it was her grandfather-just remember that line for me!”

    Certain phrases trigger a full story memory. My husband has been ‘seeded’ so many times.

  8. Dave Doolin Avatar

    Visualize. Just stop and draw a mental picture of what you want to do. I’m about to do this myself before I head out this morning.

    The greatest benefit of this is that you don’t have little pieces of paper running around every cluttering up your brain.

    This goes double for domain names. If it’s a good domain, buy it on the spot. Don’t wait.

  9. ChinaMatt Avatar

    I used to get a lot of ideas while delivering pizza (worst job ever), but usually forgot everything by the end of the 10-hour shift. I have a digital recorder that I could carry around, but I don’t like to hear myself.

  10. Tammy Avatar

    Hey Deb,
    Another great post! I often get my inspiration in the most odd ways and unusual times. The other day I had an idea right in the middle of the canned fruit and veggies isle at the supermarket. It hit me like a bolt, and I couldn’t get to my pen fast enough. I also have a small tape recorder that I carry with me (but usually leave in the glove-compartment). I also really enjoy reading all of your other posts’. Some really great ideas everyone!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all…

  11. Frances Avatar

    So appropos…just last night I woke up with the perfect sentence formed in my sleeping brain…I got up, knocked over the nightstand looking for a pen & paper, stepped on the dog as I tried to tiptoe out of the room, and probably now need knee replacement surgery after smashing it on the stair railing. I finally made it into the bathroom, bruised & bleeding, only to find the words had floated out of my head during the difficult journey! Arg!

    Lucky for me hubby & kids sleep hard. Love the ideas for pen-lights – I guess one of those little clip-on book lights would work too. Not sure about the grease pencil in the shower – I can only imagine the graffiti the kids would write!

    Happy Thanksgiving y’all from Turkey-less American in Canada

  12. David Avatar

    lol..what if the graffiti is inspiring? ( sorry about your knee );-)

  13. Cat Avatar

    I email myself during day since cell is attached to my hip. For some strange reason, I retain anything that hits me in the middle of the night!

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