Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Learning to Write Anywhere, Anytime

Capturing Inspired Thoughts

The ability to absorb a scene and translate it into words is what brings writing to life. This is true with fiction and non-fiction. True stories play out before our eyes, and fiction, in our imagination. Sometimes it is hard work to create an article and other times a complete story can drop into our minds. The secret to capturing an inspired moment is to be prepared.

Write it Down Immediately
Many writers have discovered that a flash of inspiration can strike at any time. Words come pouring into their minds, begging to be captured on paper. For this reason, I carry a notebook wherever I go. I also keep one next to my bed as I have woken up at odd hours with a perfect description or closing sentence in my mind. I have learnt the hard way that if I don’t write it down immediately, the words evaporate, never to be found again.

Get Used to Working in Different Surroundings
Very few writers have the privilege of perfect office space or extended periods of time to work. It is possible to train yourself to write anywhere, anytime. I have reached the place where I can bang out an article while my family watch television in the same room. The same goes for public transport, busy airports and coffee shops. I find non-fiction easier than fiction when there is a lot of noise but some of my best stories have been written in less than perfect conditions. The secret is to focus on what you’re thinking and writing.

Use Every Opportunity
It is surprising how much can be accomplished in the space of a few minutes. Use the time waiting for a doctor’s appointment to jot down some thoughts or write a brief outline while waiting outside the children’s school. If you have a piece you’re busy with, it’s not difficult to add a few sentences or ideas during the course of the day.

To illustrate the above points, I’m going to share a true story with you. I have a Jack Russell by the name of Nelson who loves to go wandering. In late 2007, he pulled off an escape of note and reduced me to a nervous wreck! You can read about Nelson’s adventure here.

I wrote this piece a month after it happened. The complete story dropped into my mind as we drove past the supermarket where I’d rescued him from animal control. Unfortunately, I was with my husband at the time, on the way to meet friends at the movies. I pulled out my notebook and told my longsuffering man I had a story idea and had to write it down NOW. I scribbled all the way to the cinema, then spent ten minutes socializing, my fingers itching to write some more. Once seated, I pulled my notebook out again. I wrote in semi-darkness through the trailers and you won’t believe it – wrote the outline for the end of the story while the main feature was showing. It was pitch-black and my handwriting was shocking, but I captured my thoughts. I typed it out the next morning and sold it to the local paper for $250!

On that merry note, I would like to wish you all an awesome, Christ-filled Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Thank you for reading my column each week and I look forward to sharing some more thoughts and ideas with you in 2009.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.

post signature


Tracy Ruckman said...

I laughed at this post - my hubby knows when I get a certain look on my face to just hand me a pen and notecard that he always carries in his pocket. Then he knows not to talk - just to sit quietly until I jot down all my thoughts! This has happened in restaurants, grocery stores, the mall, and even church (thankfully before the service started!)

Good for you on selling your scribblings! :-)

Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning.

Merry Christmas, my friend.

Donn Taylor said...

Dear Dibbie--
That's good advice for writers. May I suggest buying a digital voice recorder for about $25-35? It's a lot handier than pen and paper, especially while you're driving. I've been using one for about a year and find it a great help.
Donn Taylor
Rhapsody in Red
Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond
The Lazarus File