20th January

2 in the morning

This wasn’t the post I had lined up for today, but sometimes stuff happens, and at 2am yesterday morning, I woke up with a bright new shiny idea in my head.  It was an idea for an adult novel, brought about by a sequence of events that have happened over the last week.  I grabbed my notepad and pen (always have these by my bed) and started to write the idea down in the dark.  Lay back down.  More ideas, like fireworks fizzing.  So turned the light on this time and wrote more.  I think I did this five times, writing the framework for a novel over the space of about 20 minutes – probably around 5 minutes writing, 15 minutes thinking.  Not only did I write the framework, but I saw the humour and a twist, the sting in the tail.

Lights out, I then lay awake for close to two hours.  I even considered submitting to the buzz and fizz completely, donning dressing gown and going downstairs to write on my laptop.   I convinced myself that this would be a bad idea – school run to do in the morning and all that.  But I kept diving at the notepad and adding to it as pieces fell together.

Later on yesterday, I wrote a two page synopsis for the novel, and was so excited (still am) by it, I actually felt quite sick.  I must add, the timing of this is a bit precarious.  I am mid-way through my first YA… but this new idea, this book, is beating like a blood red ruby in my heart, and I can’t ignore it, and I know I mustn’t ignore it.  And there are reasons that I know this…

A week ago, I started keeping a journal – a journal of unguarded writing, not aimed at an audience – thoughts, impressions, triggers – anything and everything that was prominent in my mind and that seemed significant.  I recorded conversations, dreams, observations, and suddenly became profoundly aware that these were all somehow connected.  I am currently reading ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho so this has been buzzing around my head too – ideas of living out your dreams, destiny, ‘Maktub’ – what is written, and the significance of omens.  A sequence of dreams and sightings of specific birds, over the last couple of days, led me to do a Google search… the results were mildly spooky!

Then, at 2am, it all fell into place – the whole lot, tied in.  I am SO excited about the idea, which is like nothing I have ever read, or written, that I’m not sure how I’m going to sleep over the next few weeks / months.  But sleep I must.  And, I am still very enthused by TSP, my YA novel.  So, do I juggle?  Yes I do!  I can, actually, juggle three balls… and I have juggled stories before – lots of authors do.  So, the plan is to continue with around 1,000 words a day on TSP and make notes and collate bits and bobs for the new novel so that when the first draft of TSP is complete (in around a month hopefully) I can launch myself into this little gem… I wish I could tell you more, but at the moment, I can’t!  But I know that this is a story waiting to be written and it needs me to tell it.

Do your ideas come to you in the silence of the night… and do you embrace them, or push them away?

About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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24 Responses to 20th January

  1. Yes! This happened to me the other week. I woke up and had a more or less complete outline for an adult crime thriller. I have aspired to write one of these for a long time but had never had a good enough idea but all of a sudden, I was compelled to spend a good couple of hours (from my lady flu sick bed, I hasten to add!) writing notes furiously. It will have to sit on a back burner for a while but the back burner is where all the best ideas and detail come from, isn’t it? Good luck with all your projects!

  2. Oh fab! That’s ace! Isn’t it weird how these things hover in our subconscious and come out when we least expect it? Horrible as flu is, I have come up with idea when stuck in bed ill too – I think it’s the fever part of it that does it – seems to open the mind. Thanks Marnie, and lots of luck with yours too.

  3. Jo Carroll says:

    Oh those middle-of-the-night ideas. When they are wonderful, they are very very wonderful. But when they are rubbish, they are, well rubbish. But the possibility of a real gem always sends me to my notebook, at any time of the day or night. The very best of luck with this, Abi – we’re all dying to know more!

  4. Thanks Jo… yes, you are so right! Will reveal more when able.

    • Ah, the slow sidling-up of words in the night. And the full download too! This process of waking from a dream with a fully formed idea in my head – is such a familiar one, Abi. It always makes me feel slightly crazy, as I ferret around for pen and paper, often ending up running over onto the backs of tissue boxes etc. But it has to be gone with. Last time, it was 2 ideas for workshops and a new visual-art/text project for me. If ever insomnia was ever welcome, it’s this kind.

      I do admire your willingness to juggle everything though – in the end many of my night time inspirations end up in my notebook, and don’t see the light of day again, but the best of them won’t be ignored and just have to be written. I look forward to reading yours!

      • Hi Wendy. I love the idea of you writing on anything – often find myself doing this too. Quite incredible how the subconscious works away behind the scenes isn’t it? It’s great that you’ve had night time ideas for workshops and art projects too. My next book for children, Buttercup Magic, came from a dream – very bizarre, but as you say, incredibly welcome.

  5. Sue Uden says:

    You’ve got me all excited and positive on your behalf just reading the post. The very best of luck with it and will look forward to publication day 🙂

    • Hee hee! Thanks Sue. And do you know the really weird thing – I know that day will happen, and I have NEVER felt that certainty with an idea before, despite having been published!

  6. I love it when an idea grabs on and won’t let go — it’s happened to me a few times to me too. It’s a feeling like no other, I agree. Here’s to very productive days ahead and many more middle-of-the-night ideas. Happy enthused writing days ahead!!

  7. It is great, isn’t it? Thank you Julia – same to you too 🙂

  8. Like you, I have writing materials beside the bed to record those late night ideas. I usually scribble in the dark so as not to disturb my wife. In the morning I can hardly read a word of it! Great to hear about your killer idea – get it written, girl, we wanna read it.

  9. Thanks Dan. Writing in the dark – it is rather dodgy the next day isn’t it? Am doing YA wip in day, other one in the evening – can’t wait to get working on it tonight!

  10. Martin Day says:

    The contrasting swing of the creative mind! At one end: The flash of inspiration; at the other: writers block. Sometimes I think of my flashes of inspiration as ‘my brilliant idea’ and at others I wonder if there is something of the divine, a gift given to me to work on, like an uncut stone that only I can see the value of until I’m able to reveal it. [sorry to sound all religious, Abi, I know you don’t like it ;o) ] One thing is for sure I know I need to have or give time to respond to the moment. I think unless enough of it is captured in the moment there is a risk that I won’t see the potential when I return to it and, like Jo says above, it just seems like rubbish.

    Two of my most significant inspirations can out of dreams in the night. The first was a sketch that morphed over time into a puppet character who became greatly loved by a generation of kids in my area (see http://youtu.be/RJ2KKNDpX-w). The other was the central device of my current Musical project that came directly from an anxiety dream (http://www.shallowdeep.com/music_property.htm). Just the smallest seed of an inspiration can keep you busy for years (at least in my case!).
    And like you Abi, I keep a notebook to hand at all times, but mine is an electronic one – an old-school Palm.

    • Seriously, I don’t mind your religious take on things at all. This does feel like a gift. There is something rather uncanny and strange about the way this idea has come into being – so much so that it’s an inherant part of what will end up on the page. There’s no sensible explanation for it, but I know it’s an absolute corker – and I don’t normally have that kind of certainty about my writing – too many things telling me this is going to work. Lovely to hear how your ideas came to you too. Buttercup Magic came to me in a dream. This one not a dream – more my subconscious having stored things over the week then mashed them all up together with a bit of divine inspiration I think!

  11. Gosh, how exciting! This has never happened to me but I wish it would! I’ve often had images come to me in a dream or in the middle of the night that turn into short stories, but never this whole connection thing – it must be absolutely thrilling for you. Reading your post has made me think I really must get back into journal writing. I think it really does help to sharpen the senses. Good luck with this new project!

  12. Thanks Sue. It is exciting. It’s never happened to me to this extent either. I can see it in my head like a film. I definitely think the journal had a lot to do with it and the fact that I’ve had my eyes wide open all week, plus some interesting conversations helped. Thanks again 🙂

  13. Emma Pass says:

    I love those lightning bolt ideas. They always come to me when I’m not thinking about writing – when I’m at work, or, like the one you had, in the middle of the night (which is when having a memo/note-taking function on my phone comes in handy as it means I don’t have to disturb hubby by switching on the light!). Then I’m buzzing for days. It’s a wonderful feeling – a real high – I can just imagine how excited you were! Very best of luck with it, and I hope I’ll get to read it one day. 🙂

  14. You’re right, I get them at funny times – never had a whole novel framework come to me like this before though – even the irony and twist in it… quite spooky. Normally I have single ideas, maybe for an action, correcting a scene or a new idea to fit into something. This was something quite different. Now, I just have to write it 😀

  15. Ann Wright says:

    It is so wonderful when everything falls into place like that, isn’t it? I often find it happens at night – the mind is clear of all the rubbish and problems of the day and at rest allowing ideas to filter through. My husband can’t understand how I can sit and write in the dark – as big and scribbly as it is, it’s readable (by me anyway). But I’ve found switching a light on at this sort of time tends to switch the light off in my mind. So dark is good.
    Hope you can juggle everything and get it all written.

  16. Hi Ann, yes, I think you’re right – the mind kind of seives out what it needs doesn’t it? Yes, I’m becoming quite proficient at writing in the dark too – although a bit of deciphering is always needed the next morning! Thanks… juggling right now actually!

  17. Abi, this sounds so exciting. Don’t talk too much about the content here just yet though because you don’t want the magic to fly away. Yes, you can juggle, keep going and good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  18. Hi Rosalind, someone else said exactly the same to me today… don’t worry, no content in above, only the things that led to the idea happening. Keeping it all very close to my chest. Will let you know how it goes and thank you 🙂

  19. Nadine says:

    I like bright, shiny, new ideas! 😀

    Juggle on! It’s wonderful when ideas flow like that. I can feel your excitement, and it’s quite contagious.

    Having that journal is a fantastic idea and will surely provide fodder for your present and future works. Now you’ve got me thinking. 🙂

    P.S. Re your question, I notice that my ideas have been coming when I’m either in the shower, or washing dishes. *scratches head*

  20. Oh that’s interesting – re. your ideas. They do present themselves at funny times don’t they? Yes, the journal is great because it’s unguarded writing and it’s made me realise how often I write what I think other people might want to read. It’s helped me step outside the box a bit. Thanks again for you lovely comment x

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