My Mind Finished Writing My Article While I Was Asleep
What’s more painful for an artist than to lose a great idea? Just recently I saw a David Lynch interview where he said he always writes down his ideas immediately, because if he doesn’t, he loses them forever. But he seems to be a quick learner — he’s only lost a couple of ideas so far.
How much I still underestimate the power of inspiration. That thing that happens just out of the blue. An emotion triggered, perhaps by a thought, a conversation, a street scene — it may come from any direction — and if you’re not ready to write it down immediately, it may be gone forever.
As so often, I had to learn it the hard way. I’ve dozens of unfinished stories on my hard drive which I started writing with great enthusiasm, but put them aside for a few hours or a day to finish some paperwork or other obligation, just to find out that my whole concept of the story disappeared below the surface of my brain never to return. It’s one of the saddest things to experience as a writer.
This is even worse than a writer’s block, because it was there, and now it’s gone because of a mistake. And it is that mistake I want to talk about.
This tragedy happened to me — again — just 10 minutes ago, and it pissed me off to such a degree that I started writing this article instead. And the reason why is simple: If art is the communication of an emotion, then my current emotion is my anger at losing another great story due to negligence.
And that word is not too strong to describe the loss of it, because I believe that many of those stories may have helped people solve some of the problems they’re having, and by neglecting that stream of creativity— I’m exercising negligence.
🡺As it happened
Two days ago, I started working on a really interesting story, and at about one o’clock at night I decided to stop writing because I had to attend a meeting in the morning. I didn’t really interrupt my writing; the basic idea and construct of the story was there, so I felt I’d be able to continue writing it the next day.
I went to sleep, and in the middle of the night I woke up, and my mind started serving me all these solutions to the story I was working on earlier that night. It was fascinating, the information just kept coming: not just ideas of how to finish certain paragraphs, but also revisions of sentences I had written already. Even revisions of specific words and phrases. At the end, I even got a perfect suggestion of how to end the article in a way I hadn’t considered before.
I was amazed by it. It was almost like watching a broadcast about my own unfinished article. I hadn’t really experienced anything like that before. At least not to such an extent. It was as though my mind had — while I was sleeping — hacked out an idea of how to finish and revise the article without my involvement.
I was so stunned by it all, that I considered getting out of bed to start writing it down in order not to forget it. And of course, I made the stupid mistake to leave it for “tomorrow after the meeting”, and even believed I would remember it. My rationality said: If you get up now, you will be tired in the morning, and attending this meeting is more important than writing down this story.
Well, as you probably guessed, the whole thing disappeared completely, and even today — two days later — I can’t figure out a damn thing about it. If you’re a writer or any kind of other artist, then you know how it feels.
Rationality and art… hmm.
🡺What it teaches me
I should rather be more rational about the fact that inspiration happens in the moment when it happens and that I can’t just switch it on whenever I want to. It is a very sophisticated ‘thing’ that needs immediate attention, and if I miss to follow it, it may be gone forever. What a loss! Almost like losing a friend. It marinated long enough to finally come to the surface of my awareness, and I decided, it’s better to eat a sandwich — or whatever else— what a mistake.
I vow not to do this anymore. Whatever and whenever it comes, I want to be there, like leading a child across the street. Completely attentive, alert, ready to put this thing down to ‘paper’. This article itself is my demonstration of how inspiration works. I was so angry with myself that it triggered the emotion and stream of thought to write down all of these words in maybe half an hour.
And another thing which amazes me 🡻
How many times have I stopped writing an article for whatever reasons, just to find out that I lost half of my thoughts to a phone call or other insignificance? It’s much better to — even at the cost of exhaustion — to write down everything that comes to mind, so that none of the important information may get lost, never to be recovered again.
I can’t really understand the process of it, but the linkage between the occurring thoughts is so subtle, fragile, and sophisticated sometimes, that even a slight interruption may lead to an unintended conclusion! As crazy as it may sound, I really believe that a story can have a different ending just because you divert your train of thoughts — through the interruption — into a different direction.
And another thing would of course be the messiness that occurs when you try to recover some of the lost thoughts by putting together some quasi-solutions to problems that are far too complicated to be rescued by a band aid. It can take me hours, if not days trying to save a story from fading away.
All I can really say is: Don’t mess with the process.
If you mess with it, you will lose time, and if you write for money — then you will lose money as well. Following this simple rule makes writing so much easier. When the inspiration comes, write, write hard, until all is out. If you wake up in the middle of the night — get up and write — because the next day all may be gone — forever.