Take notes

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Dear Diary: I couldn’t believe that this type of thing would happen to a guy like me, but when that woman got out of the pool, she wasn’t wearing any…

Oops. Wrong diary.

We are all incredibly talented, witty, sophisticated, creative people. Unfortunately, for most of us, we are incredibly talented, witty, sophisticated, creative people who would have trouble remembering our names if they weren’t on our drivers licenses.

I personally have a brilliant memory. I remember that the most common form of cockroach in the United States and Canada is Periplaneta americana. I recall that the parasitic Paragonimus westermani is a lung fluke. And I am quite certain that Tycho Brahe had history’s first rhinoplasty, however involuntarily on his part.

I also remember that I had three really good ideas for blog posts yesterday…I just can’t remember today what they were.

We never know when the creative spark will light us up, but as often as not, it is likely to happen when we are least prepared to act on it. A mall parking lot. Dinner with the family. Police interrogation. And inevitably, because we’re in the middle of that distraction, we forget the idea.

Carry a note book and pen or pencil at all times. Capture that fleeting moment, no matter how (in)conspicuously. Whether you’re a writer, sculptor, painter, musician, whatever your art, the important thing is to give yourself some form of reminder that you can use for inspiration later.

As I believe I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, my first screenplay grew out of a four-word pun (a song parody) that I wrote in a note book several years earlier.

When the pun occurred to me, I had no idea what to do with it, but I wrote it down any way. Over the next two years, when I would struggle for inspiration, I would flip the pages of my notebooks, and one day, I read the pun and an idea began to ferment. 18 months later, I had the first draft of my first screenplay.

Too often, I fear, we let these moments of inspiration slip away, and while we may kick ourselves momentarily on realizing we’ve lost something, we shrug our shoulders and simply move on. Fine, move on, but don’t keep repeating the mistake.

We all know how hard to come by moments of creative insight can be. Those moments are precious gifts, even if we can’t see the application today. So, the last thing we need to be doing is simply letting them float by and be lost.

Write it down. Save it for later, when you have the time or creative inclination to turn the idea into something special.

In any event, I just had to get this off my chest before I forgot it too.

(Image is the property of Biodiversity Explorer and is used here without permission.)

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