Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever. — Will Self
Spirituality is about being ready. All the spiritual disciplines of your life – prayer, study, meditation or ritual, religious vows – are there so you can break through to the eternal. Spirituality is about awakening the eyes, the ears, the heart so you can see what’s always happening right in front of you. — Richard Rohr
Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.
― Madeleine L’Engle
When your mind is focused on a problem, when it is aware of a new reality, it frequently engages in settling that problem or new reality into a “home.”
I don’t know how many of my readers have ever been pregnant, or had a close friend or family member who told you about their pregnancy before you noticed for yourself, but it has been my experience that an announcement or awareness of pregnancy in someone you know leads you to notice all the other pregnant women in your vicinity.
Are there really more pregnant women in the world? Or do you just notice them more now that it’s closer to your life?
In a directly parallel way, our brains look for connections and placement for emotions, facts and experiences that we are focused on.
Sometimes without your initiation, but certainly once you’ve turned your mind to this problem of creating a novel, your brain will start feeding tidbits to your awareness. You will stop in the middle of the pasta aisle with the sudden awareness,
My main character’s love-interest is gluten-intolerant. Wow. That makes a great problem. How is he going to cook her a meal if he can’t make pasta for her? That means the MC is going to have to become aware of … and learn about … which will end up being useful because…
All that to say: Be Ready.
I carry 3×5 indexcards in my purse with a pen. Or in my back pocket with a pen. Sometimes a ballpoint pen in my ponytail and a non-greasy palm (or heel) of my left hand. And my phone.
The point is to write it down right away.
Sometimes those middle-of-the-night epiphanies will not be worth the time it took to write them down, but I can tell you what will be worth the time: knowing they were wimpy, sleep-deprived ideas and not the key to your locked plot points.
The morning light will let you know the true quality of your discoveries, but otherwise you may always grieve the idea that got away. You don’t always know which category an idea may fall into, so write them all down as they come. What may sound ridiculous now might be just what you need in the middle of the second act.
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I frequently see Writing as a near-mystical act. There is the sense of preparing and then receiving in the place you’ve prepared.
For several years I bred and raised rabbits. Some of them were better mothers than others. “Natural mothers.”
Rabbit mothering instincts are very limited, but taken altogether very effective. They pull fur out of their chest, push it into a hole they make in the straw of their nesting boxes, and the instincts (a surprisingly powerful army crawl) of the newborn kits puts two and two together for warm and cozy (living) babies.
Some mothers didn’t prepare a nest, and I would find frozen “kitcicles” on the straw, pulled into furless corner.
Other mothers prepared a fine nest, but didn’t return to the box to give birth. I’d find those babies on the wire. Sometimes across the yard because their seeking for life, warmth, and safety pushed them to keep crawling even after falling through the wires of the cage, since they hadn’t found yet what they were looking for.
It was all very disheartening, of course, and I got to where I set alarms and checked every 15 minutes in due-hours, to save as many as I could. We got into a rhythm, eventually, but it was a stark reminder of the frailty and dependence of new life.
In this analogy, the kits are the blind and naked ideas with a persistent will to live and be noticed, but they can’t last long without a safe warm place where they can be nourished and grown.
Prepare a place that gives them somewhere soft to land.