Always take a notebook along!
This piece of advice is one of the simplest, yet most powerful that I can offer.
Inspiration comes at the most unexpected times, in the most random places.
You might catch a whiff of some curious, unfamiliar aroma, or perfume, or aftershave; you’ll hear a conversation, and ask yourself “What if?” or you will find the tonal voice and speech pattern of a character you’ve been trying to get right for weeks; you’ll see something happen, and it will trigger inspiration inside your head.
All of that, all these ideas, run the risk of being lost as the moment passes. Don’t let them! Chances are that what you’ll write in your notebook in those moments won’t be anywhere near as good as what you imagined in your head. It won’t quite respond to the brilliant, earth-shattering idea that you had, and you might even feel let down.
That’s okay. I feel that way often enough, myself.
What’s important is not to give into that feeling and abandon your writing. On the contrary – double down! Scribble those ideas down, make full use of whatever inspiration your surroundings awaken within you. Never forget that what you write down here and now, in your notebook, is just the first draft. That’s untapped potential right there! It’s up to you to clean that up, to polish all the rough edges and uncover the diamond underneath all the graphite.
You don’t have to use your run-of-the-mill pen’n’paper notebook. Some, like author Brandon Sanderson, use their phones, tablets—whatever! My personal choice has to go with pocket notebooks, but the vessel’s hardly important – what’s far more important is to take that step and learn to write your thoughts and ideas down.
I’ll wrap this post up with Allen Ginsberg’s wise words: “If the muse comes to your bedside, don’t tell her you’ll fuck her later.”
Join me every Tuesday for a piece of Writing Advice! Next up…Who knows?