Thursday, October 16, 2008

Click "Hibernate" or "Send" . . . and Then

My writing brain has a perverse and irritating habit.

Let me set one scene: I'm writing a poem about a kid attempting a skateboard jump over and over before it's finally accomplished. Here's the third stanza:

Push off the millionth time
And balance on the deck,
I snap the tail and jump-
Another skateboard wreck?

The rhythm and meaning of the next line is driving me nuts. It's the important first line of the last stanza when the jump works:

Wow! It's not a ________,

Fill in the blank: disaster? (too many syllables), mistake? (wrong meaning, right number of syllables), accident? (too many syllables), etc., etc.,

Enough! It's lunchtime. Click "start," click "hibernate," and then . . .

Seconds later on the way down the stairs, a lightning zap of inspiration! WIPEOUT. It's a good kid-friendly word with the right number of syllables and it adds some alliteration. Worth a try?

But why couldn't I think of it before? Why did my brain hold out? It happens to me all the time. Answers strike the instant my computer is put to sleep. Maybe I should send it into hibernation every ten minutes!

Clicking "send" also triggers my brain. Send a manuscript out for critique and you can bet I'll instantly think of at least three improvements.

Is it only me?


  1. You are not alone. But I really hate it when the right word comes to you when you are empty-handed. No paper or pen in sight.

    I have been known to phone it in.

  2. It's the Ah Ha! moment that we can't understand.

    My best ideas seem to come in the middle of the night. The question then is whether to wake myself up enough to write the idea down, in which case I'll never fall back to sleep, or repeat the idea over and over as I fall back to sleep, hoping I remember it in the morning!

  3. The right word has jumped into my head years after I've written a ms. Maybe I read something similar said better in another book. Maybe a news story helped me update an idea. Who knows? Who cares? As long as I can get it in my ms. in time for submission, it's fine by me.

  4. I'm like Meg. I get lots of ideas right after try to go to sleep. Last night I scribbled down a poem on an index card so I would remember it in the morning. (The writing was pretty messy, but it worked!)