Driving the little man home from baseball practice the other day, I had a great idea for a blog post. Normally, when an idea occurs to me, I either jot it down in my Field Notes notebook, or enter it into my Blog project on Todoist. Either gets it out of my head and someplace safe. The problem I had the other day was that I was driving. I couldn’t pull out my Field Notes notebook, and I couldn’t enter the idea into Todoist. I was also talking to the Little Man. I told myself that it was such a good idea, there’s no way I’d forget it.
As the title of this piece suggests, I forgot it. That night, as I drifted to sleep, I tried hard to reclaim the idea. I crept right up close to the idea, but never close enough to remember what it was.
When I first started out writing, I worried that I’d never have enough good ideas to write about. That was silly. I have never had to worry about getting an idea for something to write about. What I have had to worry about, especially as I get older, is keeping the idea. I used to tell myself—like I did the other day—that there was no way I could forget a good idea. But I can and I do. It makes me wonder how many good ideas I’ve lost over the years. There is absolutely no way of knowing.
I can’t be the only one who has ever lost a good idea. How many good ideas get lost every day? How many good ideas have been lost over the course of human civilization? I shudder to think of this.
Some of my best ideas come to me when I am in the shower. I don’t know why this is. Perhaps it is one of the few times during the day when I let my mind wander. I was in the shower the other day puzzling over how I might start a story that I’d been struggling with. I figured it out while rinsing my hair. A good thing, because, worried that I might lose the idea, I dashed out of the shower to jot down the idea so I wouldn’t forget it.
Every writer has people suggesting ideas to them. Non-writer friends say, “I have a great idea for a novel I’d like to write if I ever could find the time.” Then the offer me the idea. I can’t give you any examples because I never write these ideas down. And because I don’t write them down, I don’t remember them.
Sometimes, I wish I could scroll through my recent memory, the way I scroll back through my browser history to find a web page. It wouldn’t have to go back far. Just the last hour or so would suffice. That way, when a good idea occurs to me and I don’t have the opportunity to jot it down at once, I could scroll back through my memory to retrieve it.
I’m certain that the idea I lost on Saturday was brilliant. And while I try to be humble here, I’d venture to say it would have made the single greatest blog post I’d ever written. Too bad I lost it.