Every author knows that for some reason, inspiration can hit you when lying in bed at night. (For me, often when I’m on holiday). Sometimes when you’re still wide awake, but usually, annoyingly, just before you drop off to sleep. And we have all made the mistake of thinking, Oh that’s okay, I’ll remember that idea in the morning. Then we don’t…
So I have learned to do the following:
- Keep my mobile phone by my bed with a Voice Recording app installed, and, if I’m on my own, I quickly click on it and start recording. Simple and effective.
- I also keep a notebook and pen by the bed, and one of those tiny clip-on lights you can attach to books – so that I don’t wake my partner. (But my handwriting is so bad, and I’m usually trying to write quickly without waking her, so occasionally I can’t read what I wrote the next morning…)
- If I really want to write more then I will get up, go into the next room and either jot it down more fully in a notebook or, once in a blue moon, turn on my laptop. I have read accounts from several other authors doing that at 3am.
- As a complete alternative, I have also tried, successfully and unsuccessfully, not to write down/record my thoughts, but instead to do ‘object association’ in my mind. The idea of this is that I think about something I will definitely see the next morning – the fridge, my razor, something on my route to work etc – and then think about something from my Great New Idea that I can associate with that object which will mean that when I see it the next day, I will instantly remember my Great New Idea from the night before. It has worked for me! Just not always… If you want to know more about this, then Derren Brown provides much better memory exercises (along these lines) in his book, Trick of The Mind.
My most extreme example of knowing I just had to write something now because I simply had so much I wanted to write – a full scene, dialogue, new ideas – is when I once got up in the middle of the night when on holiday, staying at a Canadian B&B with my partner. That time, I took my Kindle Fire into the en-suite bathroom and wrote several hundred words with one finger on a ‘note lite’ app… And I did end up using much of those actual words in my novel, The Kosher Delhi, so it was worth it!