Use it or lose it

Have you ever wakened in the morning with a story idea in your head? Did you capture it right away or did you decide to wait and write it down when you’re more awake, sure you will remember it? How many times have you lost a great idea with not a clue as to what it was?

How many of your dreams have you known would make great stories, but as soon as you are fully out of that sleep the whole scenario has faded away never to return?

Muse departed.  Opportunity lost.

Paper and pen are by my bed for just that reason. There are times I have wakened very early, a poem or the beginning of a story in my head. I know I would not remember later what was in my mind. Just this morning as I was waking from a dream, I was thinking that it would make a nice story. When I closed my eyes again for just a few moments the vision started to fade, so I hastily jotted down what I could recall, some already lost. The ‘feelings’ around such things that come in that way quickly dissipate so that the opportunity has to be grabbed right then.

Now, how many tales have you made up and told to a child – maybe as a bedtime story, or at a time the child needs to be distracted or comforted? Or have you simply thought it all out in your mind for the fun of it? Did you write it down or did you not see its value? Or maybe you were driving, or in a place where you can’t write anything? A friend told me that she recently was in a public washroom when a story idea hit and … well … her idea escaped. That’s the thing about a creative’s mind … always busy, always dreaming, always thinking.

My dear mother was very creative. She used to tell me that many years before, when she lived with some cousins, she would help get the youngest one to bed each night. Her cousin loved for Mum to put her to bed because then she’d get a bedtime story, Mum making it up as she went along. Each night would be a continuation of the night before, and usually with humour in the story. Mum often told me that she wished she’d been able to write them down because they were such cute stories, but years later she couldn’t remember them.

For over thirty years Mum was a schoolteacher, and after her passing my sister came across a story Mum had written for a summer course she had taken many years before. I remember that she was so pleased about getting a good mark on that project. This story we have that she created is now in my care, Dad would love to see it published.

Recently joining a picture book critique group, I submitted her story for their viewing and frank opinions. The responses have been very positive, and I’m sure I have felt Mum’s pleasure with their comments and suggestions.

May I suggest to you …

When you come up with an idea, write it down. When your Muse visits, pay attention and take notes. Such ideas fade quickly, story details lose themselves in our busyness, whole stories are lost – maybe whole worlds.

So … what do you do about ideas that come when least expected? Are you always prepared to capture them or do you take a chance that you will remember?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

12 responses to “Use it or lose it

  1. I know a few years ago my youngest daughter started to cry in the middle of the night. I stumbled out of bed, banged my knee against the door frame and fell on her bed. “What’s wrong,” I asked, still mostly asleep. “Daddy, I can’t sleep,” she answered. I rubbed my eyes. “Would you like a story,” I suggested. She nods and suddenly I’m on the spot to come up with a story…
    Which I did on the spot.
    When I finished I thought to myself, ‘That was a great story,’ and spent the next 2 hours banging it out on my computer.
    You are right…when the muse strikes, grab her and don’t let her go until you wring all the creativity out of that little fairy!


    • I Love this!
      It never occurred to me to ‘wring all the creativity out of that little fairy” but .. I think that is what perseverance is all about. Stick with it and wring out all you can.
      Thanks, Aaron, for sharing this.


  2. Great Post, Polilla! When my children were very little (years ago!) I told them stories during their bath time, and, when we meandered to a critical situation in the story, I would ask them to choose (Did he open the door or did he run away? Did she go to the party or did she stay home?) and they loved those stories. It wasn’t too many years after that when the choose-your-own-ending books came out. Ah well, someone else WROTE DOWN the idea!


    • There ya go … but what wonderful memories you created with and for your children. I bet if you could go back and do it all over again you would write those stories down. 🙂
      Thanks for sharing, Sue.


  3. Use it or lose it is true for me. I have gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to write when an inspiration presses on my mind.


  4. I usually find that I come up with great ideas just before falling asleep at night. I am able to run the words through my mind, and discover what seemed to evade me during my writing time. Things seem to fall into place so easily.

    I think there is something special about that time just before sleep comes and again before we are fully awake in the morning that allows our minds the freedom to explore in the land of make-believe.

    How fortunate you are to have your mother’s story. 🙂 What a lovely post, Lynn.


    • I think you’re right about the special time when our minds can unwind and just be free to create. That is an area I have yet to fully explore and just let happen. I am still learning to trust myself in that.

      And thank you, Laura, I feel blessed to have Mum’s story. Now I just hope to do it justice and find someone who wants to give it wings. 🙂


  5. I’m not sure if there is a specific time “ideas” pop in my head. Sometimes I have a chance to write them down. Sometimes I tell my kids, (after they’ve done something cool or funny) “HEY! THAT’S a PB!” 🙂 They usually say, “We know, MOM. Go on, we know you need to write it down…”

    I bet your mom’s story flourishes and grows in your sweet care!


    • Donna, your girls could be the ones who help you to write the book that makes you a household name .. who knows? Wouldn’t that be the greatest? 🙂
      Thanks for your encouraging words, I pray to find just the right place for my mother’s story.


  6. I always have little piece of paper in around me, that’s fun my friends.
    Sometimes, I have an idea in the night and I write it on a bloc-note. But I usally dont turn the light on, and in the morning I cant read it.
    This is a good Idear to publish your mother stories.


    • You made me smile, since I have done that, too. 🙂 I’ve written ideas down in the dark and have had a hard time reading it in the morning with words crossing over other words.
      Thanks for your comment.


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