ode to the voices in my head

We’re all writers here. I can say this without scaring anyone away.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll begin hundreds of stories that never make it to paper, and very often not even past the first few sentences. This is not a conscious thing, it’s not something I decide to do. All day (and sometimes all night too) my mind creates, unless I force it to stop. It spends a lot time thinking about my WIP, but it also swerves, going into other lives.

Coffee shops (where I stereotypically do most of my writing) are one place that provide endless characters, stages, situations. So much fodder in sitting, writing, and having pieces of conversation drift into my subconscious. But, if I were to sit, and write, and do nothing else I still would not be able to write each of these down.

Sometimes I like what I see, and I think I really have to write this down, but I don’t. And I then I think that’s it’s unfortunate, something great might have gotten away from me there. Until a few nights back, I decided to jot down what I had created in the middle of the night (when I should have been sleeping, because you know, as a sleep deprived mom who gets woken many times each night I like spending precious sleep time creating prose in my head).

I thought by writing it down I would get more satisfaction, gratification in having captured it. I didn’t. Instead I thought, ehhh, not bad, yeah there’s a novel here. One I most likely won’t write. Not now anyway – I’m deep in my WIP.

I thought about buying a little notepad and jotting these ideas as they come to me. I imagined looking at them one day and deciding which story to write. But, I realized that for me, these stories will never stop being created. And one that came months or years ago will not likely inspire me in the same way. So, I’m letting them go when they come. Knowing that the right story for me to write, when it comes, will stick on its own. That’s what happened with my current WIP. I was still the editing throes of novel # 1, when this one came, and I had no choice but to write it.

What do you do with all those inspirations? Do you write it down and keep it?


26 thoughts on “ode to the voices in my head

  1. Great post! I relate to the story ideas developing when I first go to bed or in the middle of the night. I almost always get the urge to work about one of my characters, or jot down a new story idea when it’s time to put my two sons to bed.

    I do write down my thoughts when I have my little note pad with me, because my 7 year old is so creative and often says the cutest yet oddest things that my brain wants to see if I can create a story about it when I have more time to spare.

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    I have trouble sleeping and ponder the fate of my WIP. Sometimes I write them down on the paper I keep on my nightstand, but when I’m too tired to write, I let my thoughts ramble on until sleep claims me.

    1. Wow, so far you are all jotters!! Amazing!
      Good for you. It must help develop the thought process in going from idea to story.
      Thanks for the comment Sophia!

  3. I’ll join you in the ‘I don’t write them down’ club. I did for a little while – made a bunch of notes that still aren’t stories. The thing is that I still have them in my head, and I figure if they REALLY need to be written, then those ideas will come back when I’m ready for them. And as you say, you grow and move on as a writer, and something that appealed six months ago isn’t necessarily still going to when you do have the time to write it. For example, I had a bunch of fun horror notes/story ideas, and I really don’t feel like writing horror lately. Maybe never again, who knows!

  4. Well, I always write in a notebook and it’s always there. I think you should write these things down, Jennifer, because it’s amazing how blank your mind becomes when you have time to write. Your mind is more creative when you don’t have the time for it.

  5. I usually only jot things down when I’m working at a story, you know, those times when we’re doing something else and if we don’t jot it down we can never get it quite right after that. Sometimes, I save a paragraph in a file for later, or I used to do that when I was writing short stories. I tend to be consistantly inconsistant in whatever I do. I always thought it would be nice to be one of those writers who has a notebook full of ideas. Notebooks are SO cool!

  6. I’m a jotter too! 🙂 I keep a notepad in my purse, on my bedside table and my desk. The most important thing, I believe, is to write…even if it is only a few words here and there to keep that creativity spark flowing strong. The more I write, the more I write. But we are all different and find our own unique way to capture what lays beneath the surface, waiting to burst out in one form or another. I also love to eavesdrop and I justify it with ‘writer at work’!! You hear all kinds of juicy tidbits that would be great (and sound natural)! LOL Little ones are the best.

  7. I jot them down and later type them all into Word files. I have a folder of “Story Ideas” though a few of those files are only first lines. My brain skitters around a lot, and I figure it could be writing a good story in bits and pieces, so I’d better take what I get when I get it.

    One of those “first lines” has actually grown into the opening paragraphs, several scenes, and character sketches of what is now a strong contender for my next novel.

    1. So many jotters – so many notebooks! I would love to have a peak at them all 🙂

      Linda, did you know when you put that idea down that it most likely be your next novel? Or, do you reffer to your notebook?

      See, that’s part of what I imagine when I think of jotting down thise inspirations: I imagine looking at them one day, and having something unforld from them, something much bigger than the original inspiration.

      1. I thought it was a good opening line, but I imagined a different story to follow … a flash story maybe. I never wrote the story, but the line popped up in my head from time to time. Then, after I finished writing Brevity, I got the idea for a new novel and, as I was thinking about how to begin it, that line popped back up, and I realized it was the perfect opening.

        However, I do open my Story Ideas file from time to time and usually one or two of them speaks to me with additional possible plot details, so I expect to use them at some point.

      2. That’s quite something, Linda! I wonder if you would have remembered the line had you not written it down.

        So many experiences with jotting them down, I’m thinking maybe I’ll just have to give it a go. A one shot deal doesn’t count for a try. Even if I never look at them again, writing is writing. part of me imagines missing everything around me because I would be in my idea book all the time! lol

        Hope Brevity is going smoothly, and I’m anxious for you!!

  8. To this day, I still remember a story./novel idea I had about a World War I fighter pilot. I was REALLY into that subject 30+ years ago. I’ve never written it down yet I can’t guarantee that I will always remember it. I’m just grateful that I get ideas and keep getting them.
    And i know, like you, that i will never write them all down in the same way that i know that I will never be able to read everything I’d like to nor watch every movie that I desire nor listen to every piece of music that I should.
    As long as the appreciation and the love is still there, I will do fine.

    1. What a great outlook, tikiman 🙂

      You know, it may sound ridiculous, but I actually felt guilt at not jotting them down. As though I wasnt giving them their right. Silly eh? That’s one reason I attempted to write it down. Of course, then I felt worse because I knew I wouldn’t futher it.
      I think I personify my work wayyy to much!! lol

  9. I usually scribble down an idea only after it’s been stuck in my head for a few days. I may never come back to it again after that, but then, who knows? I just might return to it a few months down the line, after all. I enjoy flipping through through my old, abandoned story ideas. Some of them stay abandoned, others grab my attention again, and others end up sparking even more ideas.

  10. I try to keep every scrap of paper I’ve scribbled half-realized ideas onto, but they tend to disappear. Writing is a tough game when you have to negotiate life’s maze of troubles, isn’t it?
    Thanks for the visit to my site.

    1. Hi Hook, and thanks for coming by and visiting my blog 🙂

      Yes, sometimes life does make it challenging. At these moments I have to really want it (I’m actually in one of those right now!!!)

  11. Hi, I think the inspiration’s the hardest thing to come by. I really struggle with this, even though I’m said to have an overactive imagination.

    Best of luck with your novel.

    1. I’m surprised to hear you say this, Lawrence. Writing and music, both need passion. All the hours required of both, they’re not something one does lightly and easily. I would have imagined you to be full of inspiration.

      Good writing to you as well!

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