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):

Note to Self on Going for Kona 3-26-10

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.


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23 Responses to Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow

  1. Great ideas! I’m very backward, using notes everywhere, but then I’m terribly disorganized with them. I also use word files. Lately I’ve been thinking of a voice recorder. But iphone? Would you believe I’d never thought of it. Thanks!

    • Pamela says:

      I was driving at 4 am through New Mexico on our way to Christmas in Angel Fire, with a car full of sleeping humans. It was so dark, quiet, and peaceful that ideas kept jumping into my head. I used to email notes to myself on the iPhone. I was feeling desperate, because there was no way I was going to type while driving 80 mph in the dark with a 35 mph cross wind! I was looking at the iPhone and saw the Voice Memo feature and tried it out. Eureka! It was awesome. Of course, I had to whisper so as not to wake the sleepers 😉 but otherwise it worked great.

  2. Christina says:

    I have to carry paper and a pen with me everywhere! I think when I upgrade my phone it will become more common for me to use it but I have a dinosaur and Verizon won’t let me upgrade til next month :)

  3. Eric says:

    I am not smart enough to use an IPHONE. I write on everything, scraps of paper, post it notes, back of envelopes and then toss it all in a file, then once in a while I get the file out and transfer everything to an excell or word doc. But, I am not a creative person, I do this for my enginering design work. similar to writing though, most of my ideas come at the least opportune times to jot them down. And how about those low carb monsters!

  4. […] enthusiasm for bicycling, the bicycles come with us everywhere — mountain biking at the lake, road bicycling at Brazos Bend, or simply riding the bikes to the pool.  We have done multiple family races, but only short […]

  5. […] want to donate them  to another family a lot of the time.  I own a business and work full time.  I write novels, and I have a rockin’ blog. And I happen to adore my husband and like to spend time with him as well.  Like you, I’ve got a […]

  6. My words have dried up as of late, but so has my exercise regimen. So maybe I’ll take your example and get back to exercising. Maybe my words will come back too. That would be nice!
    When I do have some words to write, I enjoy writing them in the corner of my living room, in my big overstuffed chair. Comfy and secure and home. I also like to write at Starbucks or Panera Bread while having a (bad for me) vanilla latte. Gosh, that really sounded cliche. Oh well….

    • Pamela says:

      It may be cliche but it is such a TREAT, so fun, and if it works for you, do it. Rituals like that become cliche because they work for so many people.

      I have found, of late, that the best place for me to write is our trailer in NOwheresville b/c I have no internet for my laptop and really crappy wireless connection. Social media deprivation = productivity!!

  7. ‘be colorblind, don’t be so shallow!’. yea. envogue, i think. blast it.
    goldenearring….the extended version of that song is awesome. lots of electronic drum solos. YAY! 80’s music!!!!
    part of my problem is that i get so many thoughts and inspirations flying through my head at seemingly random times that i don’t know what to do. i’m like that dog in “UP!”….SQUIRREL!….point…no, POINT!

    • Pamela says:

      Yah mon, En Vogue. A studio-created female collaboration remniscent of the boy bands, a precursor to the Spice Girls formula, but with soul and talent. I miss them :(

  8. Sandy says:

    Aw man, somebody beat me! I was sure that I was the only other En Vogue lover out there still…turns out we have something else in common, Pamela!

    This is a great idea, and I should have found that on my own phone by now…oh well, now that I know it’s there, I’ll be sure to use it! Thanks.

  9. Ally says:

    My inspiration either comes when exercising or in the shower. I think my phone (not an iPhone) has a voice memo feature – I should really figure it out, because that is a great idea! I’m often struggling with how to remember!

  10. LBDDiaries says:

    My problem with inspiration is that everything triggers it – it can come from anywhere (usually first thing in the morning when I’m barely awake & functioning). I might hear a song that prompts the thought for the post, see something out and about, have a line run through my thoughts, Alpha Hubby says something, and then I jot it down on the nearest piece of paper – from toilet paper to the side of a magazine or newspaper – or my hand and arm. I “try” to be organized and type all thoughts into my computer but it more often ends up in a file folder that I protect with my life. Well, I don’t file my hand or arm – that note I will jot into my notebook.

    I carry a small voice-activated recorder (for when I’m driving) that grows mold in my purse because I always end up pulling out out my notebook (or that hand) and try jotting notes to remind myself later what I was thinking. I usually end up thinking, “WHAT was I thinking??” Have to get very creative with my jots to inspire memory!

  11. LBDDiaries says:

    Oh and p.s. – En Vogue – Free Your Mind

  12. LBDDiaries says:

    I keep forgetting to answer the question but it gives you most comments this way (heh heh) – I always write in my office on my computer. If we’re on the road I take my laptop so if I get hit with a brilliant thought while he’s driving, I can write it all down and have it saved in the safest place possible.

  13. Sandy says:

    Poor Eric….do you record these notes at night while in bed too? Just wondering.

    • Pamela says:

      LOL, I do! And then I can’t hear myself on it the next morning bc I’m whispering so that I won’t wake him, but he always wakes up anyway. You are so right. Poor Eric!

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