Real Mistakes, Real Laughs:

Air bases were built on captured islands of Tinian, Saipan, and Guam but they were barley within the range of the long-range bombers.

(hope the bombadiers weren't on gluten-free diets)

Didn't catch the typo? Scroll to bottom of page

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

An Inconvenient Booth

In my experience -- and I have a feeling I'm not alone here -- all great writing ideas and prompts pop into your head when you're in the shower, driving a vehicle, or running/walking. I even came up with a great title for a yet-to-be-written book while in the voting cubicle during the last presidential election. I wish I'd used it then because someone has since made an award-winning movie with a title too homophonic to compete. But then again, wasn't my last blog about punny titles?

Anyway, the challenge of preserving a great writing idea that hits you while you're driving was easily solved. I stashed a notepad in the car and did what everyone else does while driving: multi-task. While I can't hold a candle to talented commuters who talk on the phone, apply mascara, and eat a breakfast sandwich all while navigating the Capital Beltway at 65 MPH, I got pretty good at jotting down key words with my right hand; eyes still on the road and left hand still on the wheel. The hard part was reading the chicken scratches when I got home. The car's leather passenger seat usually ended up with more ink than the paper. I took it as a divine warning about reckless driving behavior and pulled the car over when I got an idea that was too good to risk losing.

The jogging/walking problem was a little harder. If an idea popped into my head, I just repeated it over and over until I finished my route and got home to jot it down. This worked fine as long as I was fairly close to home. Once, at the apogee of my route, I asked a gardening neighbor for pencil and paper (a request she wasn’t too gracious about), but by the time she came back from the house with them, I could have chanted my little mantra and been home already. After that, I stuck a golf pencil and tiny notebook inside my socks beforehand (I dislike fanny packs and wristband pockets). The paper became a little moist, but it served the purpose.

Getting ideas in the shower has never been a problem since the nearest pen and paper is just a nightstand drawer away. This morning, in the Writer's Market newsletter I read another writer's clever solution for the idea-in-the-shower situation:

"I bought a dive slate to keep in the shower. Inevitably, when I step into the hot water and think, 'I'm going take a break from my characters today,' they are in there waiting for me with some new idea that I can't wait to write down. With the dive slate, I'm able to preserve those thoughts before the process of shampooing, rinsing, toweling off and getting dressed washes them all away."
—Tracy Hahn-Burkett

Who knows? With her idea, Tracy may have just identified the shower as the trendy new place to write. No longer is it An Inconvenient Booth.

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