Thursday, December 5, 2013

Writing Woes: The Inconvenient Timing of Ideas that Will be Genius

Honestly, I feared I might find myself in front of 26 students today with eyeliner on only one eye. And writing would have been to blame.

I was in front of the mirror applying make-up, trying to beat the clock and get to school when I was blinded by a new inspiration for writing. I had no place to record it, and was already short on minutes to invest. It was one of those mornings when ideas for writing were popping at me from all directions at sudden times. (Days like this are infrequent, but when they come...ah, the woes of an aspiring writer!)

I trust that if you write, you know what I'm talking about. It's that trickle of an idea that falls into your lap during your shower, daring you to capture it before it runs down the drain. Or, the sneaky lead that teases your peripheral vision on your commute to work, or the glimmer of direction that dances by as you attend your students' chorus concert.

So, what can be done when Ideas that Will be Genius pay no mind to their inconvenient timing?

I have been trying to retain the ideas by giving in to the idea for a bit. I let the idea percolate enough to establish a strong enough memory in my mind to be persistent and difficult to forget. Confession: Sometimes I do this by talking through the new idea aloud. Usually I can do this without getting caught!

Twitter pal @katsok offered a suggestion I expect to try. She uses the video app on her cell phone to record ideas that join her on her drive. She can listen to her recordings at a more convenient time. The audio serves as a reminder of her Ideas that Will be Genius. I'm already over the stigma of talking to myself--it seems having a recording of my talking aloud could only be an advantage when I can get to my notebook or computer.

Writing greats Eric Luper and Cynthia Lord have both recently shared that they keep idea notebooks in the various places they spend time to increase the likelihood of jotting Ideas that Will be Genius as they come. Maybe this strategy reduces the amount of time that could be considered inconvenient? Since I already have an affinity for office supplies, I see this as a welcomed excuse to shop for a few quaint, little idea books to champion my writing goals!

Why do the Ideas that Will be Genius come at inconvenient times, times when our notebooks are not at hand or in the middle of things that must be finished?

Perhaps it's because writing is something that can't be forced. It might be that, at times, we work too hard to make writing happen. Instead, writing might prefer an unpredictable nature. Maybe the truth is that writing finds us in it's own time.

I coach my students to live life alert to writing inspiration--a habit I have promoted far better than I have modeled, certainly. Today I found myself more alert to the real challenge--being prepared to snag and store the Ideas that Could Will be Genius.


  1. First, what a great opener. You had me hooked here.
    Second, I know that feeling, although I don't wear eyeliner. (I could see a few shirt buttons undone, though) I get it often when I am writing a song, and the lyrics are dancing around in my head, turning phrases over and replacing words to fit the rhythm of a song. I've had too many moments where I am like, Dang, where is a pen and paper when I need it.
    Using an app to capture ideas is a good one.
    Good luck!
    Kevin (@dogtrax)

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin! You're right on...sometimes I feel like I have done more composing than just brainstorming, and by then I am kicking myself for not capturing the flow better! Good luck to you!

  2. Love the visual of the eyeliner! Good luck capturing those ideas! Mine are fleeting so I need to grab them when I can. :)

    1. It would have been a vision, alright! I was in slow-motion as I debated whether I should stop and run for my notebook or risk losing the idea to having matching eyes! ;)

      My writer's notebook has a number of new lists in it's pages.