Lately I’ve been struggling with writing an essay which should be easy for me. My guess is that it’s writer’s block due to pressure, stress, and high expectations. That’s a different conversation entirely. Earlier today I got one of the biggest mental breaks for the essay, one which could help put me back on track. You know where I was? In the shower. Nothing to write on nearby. I had to keep muttering my thoughts to myself so that I wouldn’t forget them by the time I reached my laptop. Needless to say, I was able to write down what I had already thought of but, for the most part, the muse was gone. Now, as I’m waiting for her to return, I’ve decided that I should talk a bit about inconvenient writing inspiration in the hopes that it’ll shake off some of the cobwebs.
My story is unfortunately common. A writer will be going along at something they can’t walk away from, such as showering or trying to sleep, and BAM! Here comes some inconvenient writing inspiration.
Today was not the first time I encountered inconvenient writing inspiration and I know it won’t be the last. It’s just how my mind operates. If I’m trying to focus on something that isn’t particularly interesting and/or I’m block from most external stimuli, my thoughts wander. By the end of my undergraduate years, most of my class notes were actually notes in the margins for new stories and essays for my various classes. (Somehow I still graduated summa cum laude.) Showering and sleeping are especially inconvenient for me since that’s when I usually have epiphanies about particularly difficult stories and essays.
A lot of writers’ minds work that way. Odds are that every writer with access to social media has, at one point or another, complained about needing a whiteboard by the shower or having notes scattered throughout the house on scraps of paper and on various note apps. Sometimes I think it’s the universe’s way of keeping us on our toes…or torturing us.
So, how can we deal with such inconvenient writing inspiration?
The key to the answer is in the question itself: we deal with it. We can’t eradicate the problem entirely. That would involve changing how our brains work entirely and that could ruin our creativity. Frankly, we probably wouldn’t want to “solve” this problem. It’s inconvenient and annoying but, at the end of the day, writers need inconvenient writing inspiration. It helps us with writer’s block, especially when we’re getting more stuck the longer we stare at the blank page.
Dealing with inconvenient writing inspiration takes a little creativity, not to mention a better memory and overcoming laziness. The best way to deal with this sort of inspiration is to just keep things to write on wherever you go, no matter what you’re doing. Notebook or phone by your bed, whiteboard or notebook by the shower (be careful not to get it wet), a small notebook or tablet in your purse or backpack, and scraps of paper anywhere you can reach them will give you a chance at writing things down before you forget. The only problem is that you have to remember to write things down and not feel too tired or lazy to reach for your notebook. (Many writers are guilty of that, myself included.)
Short of notebooks everywhere, I can think of no real “solution” to this phenomenon. You just have to write the thoughts down as soon as you can and hope that background noise doesn’t drive the inspiration from your mind.
With those little not-so-shiny gems of wisdom dropped, I must return to waiting for my muse so that this essay may be written by the June 14th deadline. Perhaps if I start to do something else, I’ll get some inspiration again–so long as I have my phone or laptop nearby!
Have any advice for when inspiration creeps up at the most inconvenient times? Leave your thoughts in the comments.