At almost any writer’s conference, workshop, meet-up, discussion group, or critique session, someone will say, “No matter where you are or what time of day it is, if a writing idea comes to you, write it down immediately. But most writers have to learn first-hand that this is an important bit of advice.
I first discovered how crucial this piece of advice is when I got Amanda, the protagonist in my novel, into a very bad situation. It was easy enough getting her there, but I had no idea how I would resolve her dilemma. After several unsuccessful tries, I decided to let it rest for a while. I went to bed.
At around 2:00 a.m., I woke up and the solution immediately came to me. Not just any solution, but the perfect solution that would advance the action into the next chapter. The first thing I thought was that I needed to make a few notes so I wouldn’t forget. But it was dark and I was tired. I reasoned that a solution so brilliant could not possibly be forgotten in just a few hours. So I fluffed my pillow, pulled the cover up under my chin, and went back to sleep.
With daylight came the realization that I needed to get the middle-of-the-night revelation on paper. But I quickly discovered I could not remember anything about the sequence. I went to the manuscript, certain that reading again about Amanda’s situation would cause me to remember. It didn’t!
For the better part of my writing time that day I struggled with getting the story to move forward. Now, I wonder how different the story would have been had I sent Amanda down the forgotten path.
Trust me on this suggestion. Never let a writing idea go unrecorded. Write notes on a napkin. Scribble words on your hand. Enter remarks in your electronic device. Draw images on the bottom of your shoe. Whatever it takes to keep that thought! And always keep in mind that if not recorded now, there is a high probability it will never be recorded. I have no statistical evidence to support this claim, but tempting fate is never a good idea.