You never know where you will be when inspiration strikes. Driving down the freeway during rush hour? Trying to sleep in the middle of the night? Cooking dinner? The trick is to consciously put yourself into the settings that are most likely to stimulate your creativity and then be able to capture your thoughts when it does.
I blogged Once Upon a Time on writers’ spaces — the places in which we are creative. My preferred writing spots are my bed in a nest of pillows, in front of the fireplace, and in my office. I love to write when I travel, too. New spaces do it for me. Usually, if I keep moving, the words keep flowing. Sometimes, no matter how much I move, the well of words dries up. I have learned that the most useful thing for me to do then is to exercise.
When I bicycle, swim, or run, my tension eases. As my tension eases, my mind empties and makes room for new ideas to form. Before I consciously realize the process has even begun, it begins to refill itself. Eric and I talked through the entire plot of Conceding Grace one Saturday morning while out riding in Comanche County (Texas). The problem, though, is how to capture these new ideas that occur when I am bicycling at 23 miles per hour?
This dilemma used to be a roadblock to me. It is not anymore. A few months ago I got a new Iphone, and it has a Voice Memo app on it that allows me to voice record and email the audio file to myself. Holy cow! I have my Iphone with me at all times, anyway. It fits in the bento bag on the frame of my bicycle. I can leave it in my swim bag on the side of the pool. I can run with it in my fuel belt. It’s right at hand when I’m driving (no typing required).
Recently, my husband and I were doing a four hour ride at Brazos Bend state park outside Houston. That’s him in the picture above, and no he doesn’t have any available siblings. When we arrived, Twilight Zone by Golden Earring was playing. I had just finished my favorite energy drink, a Lo-Carb Monster. As we pedaled along, we passed four deer on our right. There were yellow wildflowers on both sides of the road. On our left a seven foot alligator sunned in the shallows of an algae-covered pond (I’ve circled him in the picture behind and to the left of my husband). About halfway through this beautiful, mind-freeing ride, my brain bombarded me with ideas for improvement and completion of my novel Going for Kona. I slowed down to talk them through with my husband. His questions generated more ideas.
I pulled out my Iphone. I had inspiration not just for my book, but for my blog. Three clicks later, without even pulling over, I had captured them. I also emailed them to myself. Technically I could have just replayed them later on my Iphone, but my personal system of writing organization requires saving ideas captured in email in my Writing subfolder.
Turn down your speakers and listen if you dare — keep in mind that the heavy breathing is from bicycling, not anything more fun (oops, I say the word “ass” in this file, too, I’m sorry):
This is what works for me. The music fed the biking which fed the writing. Bonus round: later we added Twilight Zone to our playlist (Eric on bass, and me on piano and vocals = half an 80’s rock band).
Where do you find yourself most inspired? How do you capture your ideas when they occur at inopportune life moments?
p.s. Extra points for naming the song and band in the title lyric drop.
p.p.s. I reposted this today in honor of Team #lovingthebike, of which I am a part, and the #30daysofbiking challenge for April.