Friday, October 14, 2016

Will You Be Ready When Writing Inspiration Strikes?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

As writers, we know that inspiration is a fickle thing. And while we all need to keep writing whether we’re inspired or not, that rush of creativity is nice. What's not nice is not being ready.

There's nothing as disheartening as those times happens when inspiration strikes and we’re not ready to capitalize on it. So today I’m going to help you be ready. 

7 things to do now to be ready when writing inspiration strikes.

1. Always keep a notebook nearby. It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital app or a physical book filled with actual paper. All too often I’ve thought I’d remember an idea or a new twist without writing it down. I rarely do. Beyond that, I spend a lot of time and angst trying to remember the brilliant idea.

When driving, make sure you have a voice
recorder within arm's reach.
2. When driving, make sure you have a voice recorder within arm’s reach. My darling husband decreed note-taking off limits to me while driving—even if I was stopped at a red light. Because of that, I used to keep a digital recorder with me. Now that I have my smart phone, I use that to capture fleeting thoughts.

3. Snag headlines and news stories that intrigue you. You can take a screenshot of digital articles, or use a program like Evernote. For newspaper headlines, use old-fashioned scissors and a manila file folder to keep track.

4. When you snap or snip an interesting article, be sure to include notes to remind yourself why that particular piece caught your attention. There is nothing more frustrating than coming across something you thought was important with no idea why you thought it was important.

Set up a system to keep track of those illusive ideas.
5. Set up a system to keep track of those illusive ideas. These can be digital documents on your computer or a filing system in a nearby drawer, just make sure you can retrieve those ideas after you record them. For me, I use a series of files on my computer. I have one for quotes, one for blog post ideas, another for clever names, one for possible articles, etc.

6. Add a visual prompt to your idea. I admit it, I’m a born lurker. I’ve been known to snap surreptitious pictures of interesting people when I’m out and about. I also take shots of places and things that I’d like to later describe—either in an article or a work of fiction.

 7. Become a professional eavesdropper. Along the lines of always having a notebook handy, take note of the conversations going on around you. But don’t stop with just the words that are spoken, write down the body language, tone, setting, everything that makes up an intriguing scene.

Each of these things on the list came directly from a lost idea because I wasn’t ready to capture it and hold on. I’d love to know what you’d add to the list.

Don’t forget to join the conversation,


7 Things to do NOW to be ready when #writinginspiration strikes – via @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. Great advice, Edie. I love my recorder. A co-worker suggested that I get one, and it has been a life saver. I also learned to use the recording on my phone. One thing that I am going to need to do soon is organize my pictures. Like story ideas, I need a file system for the pictures I've collected. Thanks for your insight.

    1. Sheryl, that's definitely a need! I have started labeling my photos and saving them under different titles. Blessings, E

  2. This must be a very common problem Edie! Idea for me come most often while driving. I think it is because I am usually alone and have no other distractions around me. Using a voice recorder is a great idea. It's funny that you say to add little notes to pictures or clippings. I would say that anything we write down as future ideas should have this as well. I can't tell you how many times I've looked through my idea notebooks and thought..."what in the world was I thinking!!" I suppose it's all about making habits. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Great piece, Edie. I find myself using the notepad on my phone for tips, phrases, and ideas that come at most inconvenient times. I, too, am a lurker. Last fall we took a trip to the north GA mountains, where my story is set. I was taking photos of barns, creeks, vistas, bridges, etc when I discovered a farrier school - one of a few in the nation. I met the founder & got a complete tour, including a lot of info on the muscular & skeletal makeup of horses and their unique hooves. Good fodder for my book. Plus the founder had been in Special Forces in Viet Nam just as my main character had. His stories were priceless. And I have an open invitation to come back, which I'm doing soon. Also, while there, I found that the senior wait staff in restaurants had lived there most of their lives and loved talking about the culture. Notes, notes, notes & pictures. Plus a third ear for conversations on park benches and in adjacent booths in restaurants. Invaluable. Listen and ask; listen and ask.

    1. Jay, that is so cool!!! Thanks for sharing your experience, Blessings, E

  4. Thanks Edie. These are great reminders for all of us. And perfect especially for newbies. God bless you.

  5. Apologies for the 'Anonymous' - none of the other labels applies.

    I'd add - put the date on it.