The Driving Force Behind Deb Amy’s Inspiration

For me, inspiration is not a whisper or a tap, it’s more like a slap.  For me, inspiration is not conveniently timed, because more often than not, I am driving.  And let me tell you, that is the last place you want to try to write something down or even find the right  button on any gadget to record said inspiration.  I’ve pulled over to the side of the road and searched for a pen or tapped out a note on my iPhone.  I’ve also, and more frequently, just repeated the idea to myself until I was able to get home and write it down. It goes something like this: DON’TFORGETDON’TFORGETDON’TFORGETDON’TFORGETDON’TFORGETDON’TFORGETDON’TFORGET

What was that again? Oh shit! Oh right!


One time when inspiration slammed on its brakes in my brain, I was on a less-than-five-minute ride dropping off my daughter at the train station in our modest, midwestern downtown that has a library, two restaurants, a cleaners, a bakery, the post office, and an eye doctor. Oh right, and an health food store for dogs. I drove around the circle that would take me back toward home and the story hit me. Oh my God! This was it. The next big thing! No time or inclination to stop, so I repeated it to myself, aloud (I was alone, after all) and when I was home I wrote it down.  And then promptly forgot about it for a while.

That’s the thing about inspiration, it’s the nudge or the tickle of an idea—at least for me. But when inspiration is followed by motivation, then you have something.  The motivation drives me to discover what is underneath the inspiration, what falls out when I turn it upside down. Sometimes it’s a treasure, and sometimes, it’s dreck.

Nothing has happened yet with the inspiration from my quick drive this summer. It’s a bit of something that I’m drawn to still, but have not yet been motivated to figure out what else there is to it.  Sometimes inspiration is simply an idea, nothing more.  Sometimes inspiration drives you to the depths of creativity.  I’m hoping that one day the tidbit I still carry with me in my head, although it’s also on paper, will nudge me to find out more.  But until then I’m always glad for a little interruption in my day, no matter what comes of it.

How do you remember your ideas when you can’t write them down? And, do you use all your inspirations or do some of them get lost in the shuffle? 

7 Replies to “The Driving Force Behind Deb Amy’s Inspiration”

  1. I am TERRIBLE at remembering ideas if I don’t write them down. Sometimes, if I have my iPhone, I’ll write myself a random email, the contents of which wouldn’t make sense to anyone else but which bring the idea back into focus for me. But I’ve definitely been there with the “slap.” The idea for my first book woke me up in the night, and I had to scurry to find a piece of paper to write it down. As you say, those are the best ideas — the ones so exciting that you have to write them down immediately!

    1. What’s amazing to me is the number of ideas I actually forget. I worked on one idea for months about a year ago. Someone mentioned it to me and I had no idea what she was talking about. And then I had my aha moment, although it was more like an uhoh. I’m not sure that inspiration was wasted, it just wasn’t right for the time and looking back I see all the holes and problems. But I’m with you, Dana. WRITE IT DOWN! And if it’s not forgotten, then you’re golden! xo

      1. I forget a LOT of ideas. It’s very frustrating, actually. The worst ones are the ones I have in a dream, and then wake up and forget to write down (or have already forgotten). I console myself by thinking they probably aren’t really as cool as they seem in the middle of the night. There’s some evidence for this. Once I woke up to find I’d written “donkey, wings, trebuchet” on the pad beside the bed.

        To this day I’m not sure what about that was so unbelievably awesome that I actually got up and found a notebook in the middle of the night.

  2. Hey, I’m a repeater, too! Nice to know I’m not alone.

    The kicker is, I have to say it out loud for it to stick in my head. Something about actually hearing it makes me remember it better. When inspiration hits while I’m in the car alone, I can only hope anyone who notices assumes I’m singing along with the radio.

  3. Oh God, I am so a repeater! In the car, in the shower, in the grocery store. These ideas never, ever find me actually sitting at the computer or with a pen in hand. The perfect line of prose, a line of a poem, an idea – sometimes I lose them and that is very sad. Although, you know what? Yesterday, while driving, I remembered a novel idea I was crazy about *twenty years ago* and it started circulating in my head and making “write me” noises. Go figure.

  4. I’m horrible at remembering things if I don’t write them down. Until I bought an iphone last summer (summer 2012 – before that I hadn’t carried a mobile since I was in-house counsel for a major telecom provider back in 1999…a story for another day) I would either repeat things to myself or turn to whoever was riding in the car with me and say “DONT LET ME FORGET X” – a disturbing experience when “X” is usually something like “the hatchet that was found in the corpse’s neck had been used to butcher an antelope the day before.”

    This is particularly disturbing when the other occupants of the car are not aware you’re a mystery writer.

    Now I have SIRI make a note for me. In unrelated news, many of my friends are now out of counseling…

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