Thursday, August 11, 2011

What Would You Do: Idea Hits After You Close Your Eyes to Sleep

I don't know if this is a feature that will stick or not, but I'm going to try thinking up different writer-related scenarios and see what everyone thinks they'd do in the situation. Of course, whether this feature will "stick or not" depends on whether people comment below. If it sounds like fun to you, please don't be shy. Share your thoughts!


Pesky ideas--waiting until after hours to strike!

WWYD Scenario #1: Idea Hits After You Lay Down for Bed
You know the drill. Perhaps you've had a stressful day and the writing well has been dry for more than a week. You're not even worried about it though, because you've brushed your teeth, taken out your contacts, and slipped into your jammies. In fact, you've already turned out the lights and are snuggled in tight to your pillow.

And then, bam! The perfect idea for a story or article slams you upside the head. Or the perfect line for a poem trips up the sheep you've been counting so diligently.

Now, what would you do?

Do you jump out of bed and proclaim, "Eureka!"? Do you try to scribble something in the dark? Do you think to yourself, I can remember this until tomorrow morning? Or do you just try to ignore the greatest idea you may ever have?

Please comment below to let me know what you would do. The only way this will be fun is if people participate, so I'll leave a comment (or two) below as well.

20 comments:

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Okay, so Tammy knows the answer to this one for me. I will turn the lamp back on and start scribbling. Sometimes multiple times in one night. Lucky for her, this doesn't happen every evening.

Radio Nowhere said...

Since I usually, always, except when I don't, take my notebook with me when I go to bed, I'd write it down then and there. Mainly because I know from experience that the idea leaves in the night without so much as a goodbye kiss.

mark
http://radio-nowhere.org/nb/

Robert Lee Brewer said...

I know. The few times I've been lazy and thought, "I'm going to remember this if I just repeat it to myself enough before going to sleep," well, let's just say I've always paid the price the next morning and put myself through agony trying to remember my awesome idea or line. There are few things that suck more for a writer.

Joshua said...

I don't "scribble" anymore. I tend to do one of two things. 1) let it stew in my mind overnight. I do this if I feel the idea-baby is premature. If it is worthwhile, it tends to not bow out for good while I sleep. 2) I get my iPhone off the end table and make a note or two inthe notes app. This I do more if the bam comes from an image or line more than an overarching idea.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

You know what I really need, Joshua, is a "mind reader" app for while I'm sleeping. I swear that some of those elusive dreams could make good scenes in novels or stand-alone poems.

Of course, it would also help with this dilemma, since it could be reading my mind just before dropping into la-la land.

Beth L. said...

Write it down! Write it down! Write it down! ..if not, come morning, these ol' sleepy brain'waves' seem to have a knack of washing away the idea-prints leaving nothing behind but dull, foggy grey matter. :-)

colleen laquay urbaniuk said...

i've done the get up, turn on the lights and write it down route, the try to repeat it in my mind enough that i hope to remember it in the morning route (i rarely do) and the more often than not grab the notebook by my bed and scribble it in the dark route (yes, in the dark and then try to decipher it in the morning!).

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Beth, I know. I always remember just enough to know I was thinking of something but never enough to remember what that something was.

Colleen, I've totally done the trying to decipher the next morning thing. Of course, that method still works better than scribbling down nothing at all.

Joshua said...

The problem with jotting down lines and titles for me is, 95% of the time it stays in my scrap paper; meaning, lines rarely make it to the final draft of a poem, especially when the line has nothing to do with any poem I'm writing.

Deri said...

I used to thing that those "wow!" ideas were just too spectacular to forget. I mean, how could such a cool/fascinating/unique idea fade from my brain? Then I'd wake up and have no idea what it was I had thought up. So now, if it's really an idea I want to do something with, I get up and write it down, no matter what time of night. I've taken to keeping index cards by my bed just in case I've forgotten to bring my notebook upstairs, along with a collection of pens. It's paid off since I once woke up from a dead sleep (a nap actually, not at night) in which I had dreamt a poem, something I'd never done before. It began fading almost as soon as I woke, but I wrote everything I could remember immediately. After some tweaking, that poem actually won first place in my college's annual poetry contest. So, yes, after that I definitely get up and scribble it down.

Shannon Lockard said...

The scenario plays out like this:
"What are you doing up again? I thought you were tired." My husband asks as I lift the lid on my laptop and begin typing. The click clack of the keys interrupting his late night TV watching.
"I have to write." I say.
He turns back to his late night TV and I write until the click-clacking slows, my head gets too heavy to hold up any longer, and my ideas have been safely stored.

E. Johnson said...

Hm, this happened to me Tuesday night, er, actually it was Wednesday (very early) morning around 3. For some reason I had just dreamed about blogging, and when I woke up the article ideas just kept pouring in. So, you guessed it, I finally got up and wrote it all down in a notebook (not my laptop, or I'd never get back to bed). I've tried to simply "remember" those thoughts sometimes, but I usually can't recall them too well the next day.

Laura Marcella said...

I do all those things! It depends how close to falling asleep I am. If I'm just seconds away from dreamland, usually I keep repeating the idea in my head until I fall asleep with the hopes I remember it in the morning. Sometimes I do. Sometimes not, booo.

But if I'm not ready to fall asleep when the idea comes then I write it down. I keep a tiny notebook on my nightstand and have been known to scribble away in it in the middle of the night, too, half asleep. That's always fun trying to decipher the next morning, haha!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Yeah, sometimes I can't even let myself fall asleep until I've cleared those ideas from my head.

Elizabeth, I've done that too. I'll just have article idea after article idea hit me. As long as I write down the ideas, I can follow up on them later.

Deri, I've written a few dream poems that are among my favorites. The interesting thing about dreams at times is that events and images sometimes don't make logical sense but they still leave room for interpretation.

Jennifer Jackson said...

If I don't write things down, I lose them by morning. The plus side is my husband is now used to it and no longer sees my inspiration as insanity. (Though, I can see where he would think that at times.)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

That's one thing about my on/off writing habits that I don't have to explain, since Tammy knows where I'm coming from.

poetcolette said...

Emily Dickinson wrote of falling asleep with a diamond in her hand, then waking with only an amethyst. So... I always write my "diamonds" down, even if in the morning they sometimes look like only purple shadows of what I'd thought the night before.

Oh, and I also keep a mini flashlight by my bed along with my scratch pad and pen, so the overhead light won't wake my spouse, who might clobber me with a diamond-ringed backhand!

kmckendry said...

I have done all of these! I never remember if I don't write it down, so if I'm awake enough to comprehend what's happening I scribble furiously in the dark.

Joshua said...

I eat my words. The other night I just HAD to turn my light on and draft a poem. It couldn't wait.

robinaburrows said...

It depends on how awake I actually am. If I am more asleep than awake, I always convince myself that I will remember the idea in the morning and rarely do. Before I got married I would keep a notepad by my bed. But now the light would wake my husband. It took me a while to figure out a new plan. But it seems like if I type notes on my phone I save those ideas and don't wake my husband. :)