Since I’m all about the help these days, I thought I’d share a little advice that most of you already know. But it bears repeating, so hear me out.
I enjoy the freedom of being a writer. Immensely. I carry an iPad, a MacBook, and an iPhone, all synced together with their nifty little “keychain” technology. Because when an idea strikes, I want to be able to take advantage.
This wasn’t always the case.
I learned a tough lesson about a year ago, and being the hardheaded woman that I am, I had to re-learn it a couple of times for it to sink in.
I came up with the most brilliant idea of my writing career while I was driving. Of course, I couldn’t exactly fumble around for a pen and paper (or most likely the back of an envelope) to write down this brilliant idea while I was speeding down the I-15 in Vegas doing seventy-five. Yeah, yeah…I know the speed limit is sixty-five. But that’s for you out of towners that gape at the casinos that dot the expressway when you’re here on vacation. I’m usually hauling ass in the other direction, and casinos hold no allure anymore. Move here, and you’ll know what I mean. But, I digress.
Upon reaching my destination (grocery store, in case you’re wondering), this brilliant idea was still tumbling around my brain. I mean—wow—it was a doozy.
At this point I’m sure you’re all wondering what this life changing epiphany was. So am I. Because I didn’t write it down.
So sure was I that this idea was too earth shattering to ever be forgotten, I wandered into the store without taking the time to even jot dot down a note. That folks, is pure arrogance. Let me tell you, I have the memory of an elephant. That’s not supposition. My memory has been tested and retested. Exhaustively. I’ll tell you all about that in another blog.
But what I realized is that remembering something that you’ve read is much different than remembering something that you’ve created. What you create is stored in a different part of the brain, I’m guessing. And wherever that part is, it has a hell of a cloaking device. Because after I was distracted by all the brightly colored vegetables that were on my shopping list (see? I remember those) my idea slipped away. By the time I got home and flipped on my computer my mind was blank.
I can tell you, this frustrated the hell out of me. For days. But I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t change my routine. And it wasn’t until the next brilliant idea slipped from my grasp that I begrudgingly began to carry my workspace with me like a pack mule.
I felt a little less self conscious about this when I attended my first writers conference. Not that I’m a slave to peer pressure, but nobody wants to be the freak in the group. AmIright?
Believe me, there was nothing to worry about. Everywhere I looked people had their laptops open, their iPads powered up, or a notepad close at hand. Because that’s the freedom we all possess as writers. The story lives within us, and we carry it anywhere we go. Our characters lives go on, in parallel with our own. And whether you’re at the grocery store or getting your nails done, if your characters start talking, you’d better listen. They might not repeat themselves.
So carry that rolling briefcase full of the tools of your trade proudly. And be grateful that you’re no shackled to a desk somewhere, toiling away.
Don’t be afraid to live in your characters. But take my advice, limit the conversations to your computer or your notebook. You’ll get much better service in the check out line at the pharmacy. And you won’t have to worry about anyone calling the doctor to warn them of your adverse reaction to the antibiotic they prescribed for your sinus infection. Trust me folks. It can happen.