Where I get ideas, how I keep them

Writers are often asked where they get “all that stuff they write about.” Speaking for myself, I get most of my ideas from my own experiences and observations and from newspapers, television, and (surprise) the Internet.

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Getting ideas has never been my problem. Ideas for blog posts or other writing projects pop into my head at all odd times. This sort of thing has been going on since I was in high school (well, not the blog thingie; blogs were light years away then).

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On the other hand, sometimes keeping ideas is my problem.

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If an idea floats into my mind when I’m dodging coyotes in the neighborhood, sitting squashed between two people on a bus, or standing in line at the grocery store, I’m probably going to lose it. That idea would, most likely, float out of my mind before I could grab a pen and jot down a few key words in a notebook or on the back of an envelope.

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Fortunately, most ideas pop into my head when I’m sitting in places where I can write them down. Places like Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, or the library.

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For example, last week I was at Barnes and Noble downloading e-books to my Nook. Two women sitting at a table near me were chattering away about a woman who had run off with her aunt’s husband. Honest, I wasn’t eavesdropping; they were loud.

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I’m not sure if they were talking about someone they actually knew or if they were discussing a movie plot or a TV program. Their conversation was interesting, but not noteworthy in my notebook. From reading the tabloid headlines and “news” on the Internet, I’m almost convinced that this sort of stuff happens every forty-five minutes.

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I was downloading my third book when a man sat at the table in front of me. He dumped a pile of books on the table, and that got me thinking about the humungous pile of books we’ll be donating to the organization that helps fund the local library. I thought, Well that will be less clutter to deal with and less dusting I have to do.

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No, I’m not going to stop buying “real” books. But from now on, I’ll be downloading most of my book purchases to the Nook. Hmmm… e-readers as labor-saving devices. I figured I could probably get a few hundred words out of that idea.

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I snapped the Nook shut, rooted around in my backpack, and pulled out a pen and notebook. After I had scribbled a few sentences and put the pen and notebook aside, I noticed the chatty women looking at me.

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Uh, oh, the downside of making notes in public places.

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Although I try to be as discreet as a mystery shopper, sometimes my often semi-frenzied attempts to get my ideas down on paper make people  wonder what I’m up to. However, during the many years that I’ve been doing this, only one person has ever, um, confronted me.

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One Sunday, Other Half and I were sitting at restaurant counter, waiting much too long for breakfast. While he complained about the slow service, I decided to do something constructive. I pulled out a pen and notebook and started scribbling away. I noticed the manager glancing our way several times. A few minutes later, he walked over to us. “What are you writing?” he asked.

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“I’m making notes for blog posts before I forget them,” I said with a smile. And I was.

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He probably thought I was a mystery shopper.

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Nope. I’m just a writer trying to capture ideas with a pen before those ideas escape from my memory and are lost forever.

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About WestWordArizona

Writer, editor, originally from Berkshire County, Massachusetts, now living in North San Diego County, California.
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Where I get ideas, how I keep them

  1. He probably thought you were writing up a complaint about the waiter and wanted to talk to you before you got too mad. You’re lucky you have so many good ideas! Good idea for a blog post by the way.

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