Bottling Inspiration
November 13, 2009

Ah, inspiration. The fickle beast. The elusive muse. That stupid, no-good, completely unreliable jerk. Some writers churn out good ideas by the dozens. Others wait for that one bold stroke of inspiration to strike them between the eyes.Whether it's through daydreaming, careful planning, or simply being aware of the world around you, everyone gets ideas in different ways. What's most important, of course, is what you DO with those ideas.Recently I was straightening up my apartment when I came across three small notebooks (pictured here for your amusement). I used to always have one of these on me, in my back left pocket, at all times through graduate school, when I was writing short stories, updates for a defunct blog, and jokes for The Onion (if you look closely, you can see the green notebook has "Onion" written very faintly across the top).I'm terrible at remembering things, especially jokes or ideas. I tried tons of methods to keep track--the notebooks, a small digital recorder, scraps of paper to jam into my wallet--and have since moved on to making notes in my phone if I have nothing else around, though now it's more notes on someone else's story than my own creative projects. Logging these ideas, however stupid they may be, has worked wonders for my productivity.It's easy to keep track of things when the ideas simply pop, but I'm always amazed at what people can do to try and stoke the inspiration juices. For me, nothing worked other than a deadline. If I needed to write 15 jokes by the end of the week, I'd stare at a blank wall until I had them.So I'm wondering what you do to keep tabs of the great ideas floating around in your head, and if you have methods for helping to produce them? Do you ask "what if" questions? Free write? Daydream? Poke at your brain with the tip of a pencil?