Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. — Carl Sagan
Ideas are everywhere. They find you when you’re on a walk, a drive or in the shower. I often get ideas when I’m rinsing twice.
So I keep a pad and pen on the bathroom sink. Maybe one day someone will invent a waterproof pad I can use in the shower. But until then, I have to say my ideas out loud to remember them while shampooing. Because if I keep the ideas tucked inside my head, they disappear down the drain with the suds.
Saying the ideas out loud help me remember them until I can write them down.
It’s frustrating to get ideas at inconvenient times. Why aren’t they more considerate when I’m driving? Nag. Nag. Nag.
As soon as I get in the car, its showtime! — My thoughts start a rambling monologue: Look at the clouds! They sparkle from sunlight. The tree branches look like diamonds. Did I close the garage door? Why did that idiot just cut me off?
I use the voice memo app on my phone to catch my racing thoughts instead of chasing after them in my car. I can’t use my thoughts as an excuse if I get stopped for speeding.
COP: Why were you speeding?
ME: I had to catch my racing thoughts.
Cop calls for backup.
Catch your ideas responsibly.
Being creative and getting ideas is a lot like a Medium dogged by drop-in ghosts.
GHOST: Hello! Hello! I know you can see me.
MEDIUM: Leave me alone. I’m busy!
GHOST: I’m still waiting to speak to my daughter.
MEDIUM: Come back when I’m out of the shower.
It’s annoying when spirits harass you about unfinished business: “I left the water running in the bathroom;” “I forgot to tip the waiter;” “Are my kids wearing jackets?”
Blah blah blah. It’s like that with ideas; they constantly harangue you, like spirit telemarketers, except you can’t complain about them to the FCC.
But you can learn how to manage ideas as a Medium does with meddling ghosts.
You can turn ideas off and on like a spigot by writing them down when you’re busy with other day-to-day terrestrial stuff. Sometimes if you can’t save an idea, it loops back again when something triggers a reminder, but not always.
That’s why I keep a notebook with me wherever I go: the bathroom, work, bed, especially bedtime. That’s when ideas tap you on the shoulder and say, “Stop snoring!”
Oh, that’s my husband!
Ideas usually whisper in my head (not my ear) while taking off on a pre-sleep romp.
Did I lock the door? I think so.
Click. Click. Click. What’s that sound? Dog toenails on the hardwood floor? Dutch burglar wearing wooden clogs?
Do we need food? The shelves in the fridge are bare…
What if there was fridge outerwear: Butter Babushkas, Soda Down Coats, Gouda Goulashes…
Bedtime is rush hour for ideas. You’re a rubbernecker watching as they slip by on the peripheral of unconsciousness until your brain fades to black.
And as soon as you open your eyes the next morning, the ideas start all over again. What was that idea last night? Bubba what? Bubba Boo. Bub, yah gotta stop blocking the fridge. I’m hungry!
It’s thrilling to see what you find when you let your thoughts run free. They can reach the stratosphere if you let them. That’s when you’re “in the zone,” the place where thoughts fueled by ideas morph into extraordinary creative expression…
But always remember to catch them before they get away. Preserve them on a pad strategically placed on your nightstand, kitchen table or wherever you go.
Don’t lose them when you’re busy with the terrestrial stuff.
Ideas are exhilarating gifts. They’re the greatest perks of life; they’re part of who you are; they’re fodder for creative expression; they’re spontaneous sparks that animate your writing. Without ideas, your life’s just another knockoff brand.
Also published on Medium.