When I was writing my latest novel, Bridges, I woke up in the middle of the night and knew I’d come up with an idea for a scene I was working on, but I had no idea what it was. Absolutely none. Instead of fretting about the lost inspiration, however, I reached for the notebook in the drawer of my nightstand and read the following, which I had jotted down in sleepy chicken scratches:
The above notes may look insignificant, but they are anything but. They resulted in additional scenes/conversations that added considerably to a side plot and the emotional growth of the main character. Both areas had been giving me trouble, but I’d been unable to figure out what to do about them. If I hadn’t written down those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night, I would have come up with a solution eventually, but it sure was nice to have it right there in front of me. In my opinion the writing is often the easy part; it’s coming up with what to write that is hard.
I’ve learned my lesson about the notebook thing. More than a few times I’ve woken up at 2 or 3 a.m. with an idea but no notebook nearby and thought, I’ll remember it in the morning, then promptly fallen back asleep. How many times have I remembered those ideas? Zero. Now, no matter how tired I am, I force myself to reach for my pen and make a note when an idea strikes. Often that paper ends up in the recycling bin after I read it, but just as often those flashes of creativity end up in the pages of a book. Better safe than sorry!
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