Ray Bradbury said, “I don’t need an alarm clock, my ideas wake me.” This iconic science fiction writer’s words challenged me. Sleeping after an idea floats through my mind is hard. Getting up to write when I work the next day—a bigger battle. If the idea strikes a half hour before the alarm my creativity usually wins out. But 2am when I get up at 4:30—fat chance. I roll over and tell my characters to go back to bed.
Then there’s the ideas I get in the shower. They often flow away in the recesses of the bath towel as I dry off. By the time my shower is over, and the idea has been thoroughly discussed with my imaginary friends I don’t have time to write it down. But if it happens on my day off I’m excited. I drag those characters out of the tub and make them wait while I dress. Then we traipse to the computer and they dictate as I type.
More often the not though, on my days off, if I haven’t jotted the ideas down, it feels like my characters have gone to the beach and taken the next scene with them.
Such is a fiction writer’s life.
When I do capture the ideas, it makes my next block of writing time so much more productive. Rather than letting the idea alarm rule my writer’s life I tend to scribble ideas on scrape paper at work and shove them in my uniform pockets. God forbid those uniforms get washed before the pockets are emptied. The ideas come during down times at work when the phones are quiet, and the paperwork is caught up. Those notes spark my thoughts for the next scene when I sit down to write.
Bradbury was far more determined than me if he let the ideas dictate his day no matter what time of night. If my ideas become my alarm clock during retirement at least I can take a nap after my sleep has been interrupted. Until then I’ll keep pushing the snooze on the idea alarm.
How does this quote speak to you?