I woke up twice during the night with story ideas. I scrawled them on the notepad I keep by my bed. I have loads of ideas for stories – far more than I will ever have time to write. Sometimes the ideas are lousy, sometimes a little better. Sometimes my choice of which idea to pursue is lousy too – chasing an idea that seemed to be one of the better ones, but turned out to be not so much. One thing I try to do is make a of note ideas when they come to me.
Stephen King seems to discourage this – suggesting that if an idea is good enough for a story, then he’ll be able to remember it. Good luck to him with that (said to the tune of “omigosh I envy his success daily”). Me, I’m able to forget someone’s name before I’ve even finished shaking their hand. Perhaps the story ideas I’ve forgotten were the really, really lousy ones, but I have built some stories I’m proud of from those kinds of scratched out 2am ideas. If you’re so inclined, you could read “Airpocket” (a 600 word flash story, so readable in the message from our sponsor breaks in your favorite sitcom) – that’s a story that started from a midnight waking and note.
Remember those dogs in the movie UP? So focused on their mission, but easily distracted: “Find Doug. Find Doug. Find Doug. Squirrel!” At least they get back to their mission. I’m more like: “That’s a good idea for a story. Oh, look that store’s having a sale. Where did this guy learn how to park? Huh, she’s attractive, pity about the dress-sense. Did I lock the front door? Oh what was that story idea I just had?” I’m glad I keep a notebook handy.
Will last night’s ideas produce viable stories? I don’t know about that, but at least they’re down on paper rather than stuffed and lost somewhere in my somewhat unreliable memory bank.