Wednesday, January 14, 2015

7 Things to Do NOW to 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 sharing 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.

2. When driving, make sure you have a voice recorder within arms 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.

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 #writing inspiration strikes – via @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. Great tips, Edie! Sometimes I will jump up from a dream and jot down a phrase. The recorder idea is fabulous--never thought of that one.

    Blessings and thanks for all you do!

    1. Julie, I've had to make sure I always have something by my bed to write on. The middle of the night is when I'm most likely to lose an idea! Blessings, E

  2. Very helpful tips, especially #5 on setting up a system with specific categories, not just "writing ideas" or "resources". Thank you!

    1. Marilyn, #5 came out of losing ideas I'd written down. That's even more frustrating than not capturing them at all! Blessings, E

  3. Thanks for the helpful ideas, Edie. My biggest problem is keeping track of the sticky notes I have all over my office. I'm working on keeping those ideas in a small notebook instead, so #5 is an important reminder.

  4. I can totally relate to #1 and #2. Pulled out my notebook the other night at a restaurant to write down what the person at the next table was saying (in a very LOUD, irritating voice). A lot of inspiration seems to come at me while driving. There have been many times I had to pull over and write things down before they flew away. I need to remember to record on my smart phone like you do. :)

  5. Self edit no matter how brief the comment. "It is to easy to forget or lose" is what I should have said.

  6. I've been known to write ideas on napkins, but a notepad is much better (note paper doesn't tear when you run a ball-point pen across it as easily as napkin paper). I need to invest in a digital recorder as I seem to get a lot of ideas while driving and will often talk through a scene. I'm sure people look in their rear-view mirrors and wonder if I'm crazy for talking to myself. Thanks for the great tips!

  7. I like the suggestion to be sure and write down why you kept the article, snapped the picture...

  8. Andrea Losurdo CassidyJanuary 15, 2015 at 9:39 AM

    Great ideas, Edie! I seem to get a lot of ideas while in the shower, (can't bring pen and paper in there!) but I can set up my smart phone just outside and record my thoughts. Hmm...I'll have to try that tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestions.

  9. Thanks, Edie! Number 4 is my favorite tip. Often I've written something in my future blog post file and when I go back to write it wonder what I was thinking. Sometimes I can retrieve the thought, but generally it never comes. Number 7 is a good one, too. I've written a couple of posts based on overheard conversations. There's nothing like real life to spice up your writing.