One of the things I learnt during writing the first book was the importance of being prepared. Not in the sense of having a story, more that moments of inspiration can leave you as quickly as they arrived. And once they’ve gone they sometimes don’t come back.
I’ve lost track of the number of ideas I’ve had for plotlines or how particular characters will develop, but because I didn’t have any way of remembering them they’re lost into the great story recycling plant of my brain. It doesn’t matter how much you try to hang on to the thought, something will always happen to stop you remembering it later, whether it’s a car swerving into the lane in front of you or someone talking to you. The moment’s gone.
I soon realised that the best day-to-day solution to this was a small notebook and pen from a supermarket and that gets you so far, I can carry it around in my jacket and it doesn’t matter where I am I’ve always got a way of remembering the thought. Not just that but I frequently overhear snippets of conversation or scenarios or locations that I can re-use. I know that sounds like cheating but it isn’t, in fact I think I picked that tip up from a book on writing. Even if it’s only just the description of a location, sometimes it’s easier to use factual locations to give you inspiration for the one you’re writing about.
Now I do a lot of commuting, it’s nearly 100 miles to work and back and obviously I can’t just stop on the M62 and write things down, first because you can’t write neatly when you’re driving but mostly because I don’t really want to die. I’ve considered using the memo record function on my mobile, but I’m not sure that being pulled over is the best way forward and even if I turned it on when I left work most of the time it would just hear the radio. Sometimes ideas pop in and take some nurturing and development and that’s fine I’ll usually remember those when I get home, but the rest are lost.
I could of course just pull off at the next junction and find somewhere to stop there, but it’s not always that easy, and the distance between junctions and other location factors mean I could spend 20 minutes looking for somewhere to stop only for the idea to leave my head the minute I pulled over.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way might just be to use the bluetooth in the car to call my wife and get her to write them down. I just wonder how she’ll feel about being my secretary…..