I can’t imagine other authors go to bed and when their head hits the pillow, they suddenly think of something they could do to make that story they wrote six months prior better.  Yet, this happens to me all the time.  Talk about random.  Maybe I’m not alone in this.

ATFMB's Writing JournalThere’s this superhero thing I wrote a long time ago.  I revisited it earlier this year, made a few changes, but still didn’t feel like it was ready.  Needed something.  I moved on.  Just a couple of nights ago, I lay down to go to sleep and WHAM!  Idea hits me.

At this point, you have a decision to make.  Get up and write the idea down, or try to go to sleep and hope the idea is still there when you wake.  I almost always choose the former.  I mean, there have been times when I have had a great idea at a time or moment where I can’t break away to write it down.  Like a three hour training meeting, or when I’m commuting to or from work.  These are the times when you have to pay attention to other things and hope you will remember whatever it is once you’re back at your computer.  I will admit to using my iPhone’s Voice Memo when driving to record the idea.  🙂

But, and this is my point, I have lost ideas due to bad timing.  Meetings are a good example.  You’re in a meeting, or, worse, you are the organizer of the meeting, and a random thought flashes through your mind, a tantalizing idea you would love to jump on right then and there (SUPER INTELLIGENT TIME TRAVELING DINOSAUR NINJA PIRATES!), but you can’t.  Way to go, brain.  Thanks for working with me.  So you go about your business, you finish the meeting, and when you are alone again, you take out a sheet of paper or open an email to yourself and…it’s gone.  SUCH AN AWESOME IDEA!  IT CAN’T BE GONE!

You start wracking your brain.  Okay, you were talking about…what?  And then someone said…?  OH COME ON! STUPID BRAIN!

I’d be curious to know how other authors deal with this sort of thing.  I actually keep a simple text document called ‘Story Ideas and Elements’.  If something cool pops into my head, that isn’t about a current WIP, I add it to this document.  Even names of people, places or things that sound cool.

Recent additions:

  • Name: Ibsa
  • Thing: Megalethoscope
  • Thing: Ossuary
  • Group: The Culper Ring

Whether anything comes of these things, I don’t know.  But I tell myself yes, I will write that story…



  • J.T. Evans Posted July 6, 2012 11:28 am

    I’m totally struck by ideas at random times. Showers, driving, almost asleep, playing with the kid, sitting in a meeting, middle of a presentation, etc. Almost everywhere I go I carry a little moleskin-style book that I got at a conference at a folding, “flat” pen that slips into the back pocket of the book. It works well for jotting ideas.

    My first novel, Warmaiden, came from about 12 pages of notes on tiny, itty-bitty pieces of paper from a notepad I carry in my car. I had originally written a short story that the critique group told me was chapter one of a novel. I didn’t have a novel in my head. About 8 months later, the novel sprung fully-formed from my forehead while I was cruising at [redacted] MPH down the Interstate. I damn near locked up the brakes while heading for the shoulder.

    Once the car stopped, I started scribbling as fast as I could. I wish I still had those little sheets of paper. I transcribed them into my larger “plotting book” and tossed them. Turns out I had 4 pages of good notes that turned into a 104,000 word novel.

    A short story of mine hit me in the head as I was almost asleep in Portland, OR while at a conference. It was middle of the week, 3 AM, and I was exhausted and had to be up around 7 AM to get ready for another day of learning. The story hit me so hard, I had to get it out. I grabbed my little moleskin-like book and a good pen and got to work. MANY pages later, I finished the short story (about 6,000 words) and looked at the clock. It told me I had to be up in 3 minutes. *sigh* With the help of plenty of caffeine, I managed to muddle through the rest of the day. I still love the short story even though no one has deemed it fit for publication as of yet. *sigh*

  • Caroline Sandford Posted July 7, 2012 3:25 am

    I dream crochet sometimes…it’s a little harder to jot down in note form. Hence the drawing lessons!

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