The inconvenience of ideas

I often get ideas at the most inconvenient of times. Like when I’m taking a bath. There I am scrubbing my hair, with shampoo getting into my eyes when the idea bulb suddenly lights up. I mentally try to sticky post that idea, but 80% of the time I’ve forgotten about it by the time I’m out of the shower.

Sometimes it’s during worship service hour on Sundays inside the church. A phrase or a funny vignette from the pastor’s message would spark an idea. Other times, it would be when I’m washing the dishes. Or when I’m about to fall asleep. Or inside the pedicab on my way to work.

Why can’t these Eureka moments strike when I’m facing my laptop or sitting in my worktable ready to just execute that idea to fruition?

This is the reason why I’m never anywhere without a notebook, pen and my Blackberry.

BlackBerry has this MemoPad app  where I can quickly type out “sketches” for a possible story or blog post. After the 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck last month, I wanted to capture the feeling of the moment, the fear, the emotional roller coaster and the chaotic scenes around me by typing on my BB vignettes of what was happening around me. This led to my post on “30 seconds can feel like forever.”

blackberry phone

This way, even if I’m not able to sit down and write a post about the experience right away, I can refer to my notes on my BB to provide the flesh of the story even if it’s been weeks or months afterwards.

For those times when I’m in a more convenient situation, like in the middle of a meeting for example, I can just whip out my notebook (a lined Moleskine for me) and pen (Pilot V5) without raising any eyebrows. It’s really bad manners to use your cellphone while in a meeting, right? Even if I wasn’t actually texting but rather just typing down my ideas, it would still look like  I’m texting. With my Moleskine, however, would look like I’m jotting down notes of what’s going on during the meeting.

Although, sometimes, I would just be doodling. 🙂

In my line of work, I’ve learned the value of “writing down the moment.” I don’t have a photographic memory (which, come to think of it, would really be cool for a writer). When I’m in the middle of a press conference, or interviewing someone, I don’t just rely on my recorder. I want to note down some of the stuff that the tape won’t be able to capture, especially when it’s for a feature story. Gestures, expressions, descriptions – these are what add color to a story. It makes it much more meaty.

As Anton Chekhov famously said:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

What helps me show the glint of light are my notebook, pen and BlackBerry. I can walk out of the house without lipstick on, but never without these three “apps.”

7 thoughts on “The inconvenience of ideas

  1. I’ve had similar moments when ideas decide to suddenly leap at you. It’s normally at four in the morning when I’m desperate to actually sleep, and then by the time I wake up the notes I made make very little sense because they were written in a semi-comotosed state. (do not hold me to that spelling, my apologies in advance).

    Lovely little post though, short and sweet and intresting to read.

    1. Thank you Carol! And no, I won’t hold you to that spelling 🙂 I used to do that, writing out notes half-asleep, and finding scribbles that look more like doodles the morning after. I reach for my BlackBerry now instead. But then, that’s not much of an improvement either, finding texts that read like: ” i dufrfg fjgw wjspohg jsdup.” What the…?

      1. *nods sympathetically*
        I spent an entire day working a chapter out of notes I’d written only to find it worked better in a different story…
        I still got the fifth chapter for HG written, it just went up on thursday instead of wednesday, which annoyed me because it was late by five minutes.
        Still, annoying, badly times ideas are better than none. 😀

      2. Oh, and thank you for following my blog 🙂
        Can I just ask if there was anything in specific that made you click the follow button? (I’m always looking for ways to improve my site so I like to know what gets people to notice my blog.)

      3. You’re seriously asking me that? Chapter 5 got me hooked. I’m more into creative non-fiction. But I envy writers like you whose writing is just so picturesque. I’ve only read your most current post so far, so I’ll be going back later (when I have more time) to read more.

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