Before my family and I moved to Texas, we lived in North Carolina. My wife and I are in the Army and were stationed at Fort Bragg. We lived in Raeford, which was about a 35-40 minute drive from the base. With being stationed there for seven years, that gives one a LOT of time to think when going to and from work.
Or for someone like me, a LOT of time to think…about writing.
I’ve been a writer for many years now and I learned a long time ago that it IS true that good ideas always hit us when we’re the least prepared for them. This is the reason my wife truly believes that some nights, I simply don’t sleep. At all.
Many times, she’s absolutely right.
Way back then is also the first time I learned that it is important to always carry something with me that will allow me to write at any time. This way, when these ideas come to me, I can pull out either a notepad or even my phone (to use the voice recorder or notepad on there) and record my ideas.
When I first got to North Carolina, of course, I wasn’t crazy about the drive every day. It was tough because where we lived in conjunction with where I worked on base, there was really no way to take shortcuts to get there. None of them worked. Oh, some routes had more lights than others, but for the most part, since the spot I worked was always on the opposite side of the base from the direction in which I lived, there was no getting around to doing a LOT of driving just to get ON base, only to still have to drive across the base for another 10-15 minutes or so just to get to work.
Naturallly, with all that driving came the feeling of figuring out how to pass the time. Of course, paying attention to the road, but I’m talking mentally. By that Wednesday drive home at the end of the day, I was sick of it already.
Again, I’ve written for a long time, but I didn’t really become serious about it until I lived in North Carolina. I have written a ton of poems over the years, but it was only several years ago when I worked on my first book. By now, I’m a screenwriter looking to do this as a career once my Army career is complete within the next few years.
So many ideas came to me whenever I drove pretty much anywhere. I first noticed it when my family and I would take road trips out of state. When she and the kids would take a nap and I got tired of the music, writing always took over. If I was in the middle of a project, I spent the drive thinking about that project. If not, I was of course thinking of the next one.
It didn’t take long before I started to do just as what’s in the picture. I began keeping a notepad and pen in the passenger seat whenever I drove to and from work. Since some of the routes included a ton of traffic lights, I would sometimes go those ways intentionally and each time I reached a light, I would jot down whatever notes were on my mind. I first started doing this when I was at the end of one of my screenplays and what I felt was a great ending came to mind. I would recite aloud what I wanted to write because I didn’t want to forget it. And because I didn’t have any way at the time of recording it, I recited it over and over until I got somewhere I could get it down on paper.
Now, I do this just about every day. I have to. Even though here in Texas, the drive to the base is much shorter and there aren’t nearly as many traffic lights, I still do this because there is no telling when something will come to mind. I write a lot more now than I did before (and it was definitely a LOT before), so…I think it’s only appropriate to be able to do whenever, wherever and however I need to. It has certainly become very helpful.
Luckily for me, the ideas are still there. I don’t know if it’s because I love writing just that much or I’m mentally still getting used to the idea of having that notepad there, even though I have been doing this for a few years now. I’ve heard of people saying that whenever they’re able to write, they can’t think of much, but only when they aren’t able is when they come up with their best stuff. Maybe my mind is stuck on believing that I “can’t” write at that time and that’s why I’m fortunate enough to have the ideas continue to flow.
Whatever the case, the notepad and pen has quickly become one of my favorite passengers. One of the very few things in my life that I want to take ANYWHERE I go.