Ever have a flash of brilliance related to your writing -- a solution to a plot problem, the perfect clue to the killer - that disappears like a wisp of smoke when you try to recall it later? As a writer, plot lines and unique twists of phrase can bubble up at any time, usually when you're not thinking about your book. The key is to capture the ideas immediately before they have a chance to escape.
For years, my Achilles heel was my conviction that my memory is better than it is. I'd lie awake at 3am, staring at the ceiling while the character I couldn't quite develop suddenly came to life in my head, vivid and entertaining. I'd work out all the back story and details on what role the character would play in my mystery, then drift off content and secure in my ability to remember. Then 6am would roll around, the alarm would buzz, and I'd think, "Now what was that fantastic idea I had last night?" But it would be gone. Lost in a fog of middle-of-the-night musings, like so many ideas before it. Or a brilliant idea would occur to me while showering, but I'd get caught up in mundane activities, like drying off and getting dressed, positive I wouldn't forget in those few minutes. By the time, I'd buttoned that last button, the thought would be gone. Evaporated like the steam on the shower door.
After enough forgotten ideas, I confronted my stubbornness and decided to start writing everything down. Which should be easy in theory. Take a pen, apply it to paper, and voila! The idea is forever cemented. But, no. It's not for a lack of supplies. I must have fifty notepads, tucked away in my desk drawer, perched on my bookshelf, buried in my purse. My writing group celebrates various holidays, and invariably, a goody bag or two will hold a notepad. I'll clutch it with delight, swear I won't lose it, and then never see it again. Ever. It slips into that vortex that swallows socks and working pens. I put notepads on my nightstand so I can jot down stories that wake me up. I put notepads on top of my desk for easy access. But the second I turn around, they're gone.
But where do these notepads go? They can't walk off by themselves. My four-year-old son confiscates a few, but he couldn't possibly steal them all. If I ever figure out where the notepads vanish to, I'll be sure to write it down. If I remember.