This morning, I read a post on Facebook by my friend Leah Hart about an experience she recently had. In that post she revealed that two days ago, she had a terrific idea for a new novel. At the time, it was crystal clear in her head and she knew exactly what to do to write it.
However, she’s also a terrific wife and mother. At the time, her young children were ill and needed her mothering, which she gladly supplied. Family first. I get it and I agree completely. After tending to her children, helping them get through their discomfort, she took a moment for herself to write down her ideas.
Those ideas are now what I call ‘vaporware’. In tending to her children, the story idea didn’t get a chance to imprint itself onto her brain, and the brain did what normally does. It cleaned house.
Our brains are wonderful organs. They capture and store significant amounts of information. Information that we use each and every day. It also stores memories, experiences and all sorts of stuff so that we can learn from our mistakes and improve our every day lives.
The trouble is, our brains also have only so much capacity. Granted, some brains have more than others. Still, it’s a fact that if we don’t use those thoughts and apply them to our lives when they first bounce around in our noggins, then our brains are trained to clear them away to make room for new stuff.
It sucks. I know all too well. I have been a victim of this phenomena many times over.
I used to keep a notepad on me all the time to write these notes down for followup later. The result as you might guess, page after page, notebook after notebook of ideas that clutter up my home and rarely get referred to. So, then I tried using a white board. I have it prominently mounted in my home office where I do the bulk of my creative work. As I walk by, I can glance at it and recall at an instance, just what that idea was. ‘Better’. That board is so full of notes that it’s hard to see the white behind the black of the dry erase marker. Now, it’s almost a chore to keep it up to date and if anyone knows me, I hate doing chores. I do them, but I hate it.
With the advent of the smart phone, ‘Siri and Ok Google’ where speech to text has evolved to be practical, I began using the ‘speech to text’ features of my smart phone to capture and write down ideas. Much better and almost doable. I have my phone set up so that as I dictate my notes, those notes are written down and uploaded to my cloud account.
It works though I do have a funny story to go with it. One day, I was sitting in a café eating lunch, when an idea flashed through my brain. Great. A perfect opportunity to write down my idea. I whipped out my phone and tapped the icon. Who doesn’t keep their phone with them at all times? As soon as I did, I opened my mouth to begin speaking when lo and behold, I saw words appearing on my screen. And I wasn’t talking. Huh? Turns out the microphone was so sensitive that it was picking up the conversation of the people at the next table over. Wow! I thought. How cool is that. I was reading on my phone what they were talking about. All the personal details of their lives were being captured, converted to text and uploaded to my cloud account. I erased them but still ….
Since that day, I am careful to watch what I say, not just to the people whom I am sitting with but also to the strangers at the tables nearby. Word to the wise!
What have I concluded from these experiences my brain captures every second of every day? I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and write. Many of my best ideas, dialog and scenes appear in my mind while I am in that half awake / half asleep state. I’ve trained my mind that if those ideas are good enough, to get the hell out of bed and write it down.
The scene, dialog, whatever won’t be perfect and will need editing. But, I’ve captured the idea and I can use it productively.
So, in the evening and right after dinner, when I seem to be checking out, my eyes drooping and it’s obvious I am looking for my bed, just know this. My day started at 4am and it’s been very productive. By 8pm, I’m tired, run down and ready to shutdown for the night. It sucks some days but that’s the way it is.
And oh, btw way. I started writing this about 5am, about a half hour after I woke up with an idea and I saw Leah’s post. Oh, shit. What was that idea that I had at 4am anyway?