Benjamin Franklin once said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Maybe he was right. So I’m driving down the street this morning and I’ve been wanting/meaning to get some windshield wiper blades– for cheap (we have two cars and a truck, six rubber blades are going to be expensive). I pass the local auto parts store and do I want to go inside? Of course not. I want to go home and play a COMPUTER GAME. You might have wanted to watch TV…no matter…. I don’t want to, but I turn the car around to go in to ask what size blades I need. I park the car and after I grab something to write on…suddenly I realize….I don’t have anything to write with (ACK!!! NO PEN!). Frantically I start rummaging around in the junk in the car looking for ANYTHING to write with (by now, I’ve already realized that I can walk in the store and borrow a pen, but that’s not the point). Miraculously, I find an old pen between the seats. I go into the store and get the information.
I come back to the car, and then after almost failing in my mission, I have an IDEA. I placed the pen in one of the cups on the dashboard and I named it the “double emergency” pen. By that I mean that THAT pen never leaves the vehicle for any reason (except to walk into the store and come RIGHT back), and it serves no other purpose…other than writing something down right at that exact moment.
Put the pen in my pocket? I’ll lose it…if I’m lucky. If I’m not, the pen goes through the clothes dryer and ruins my wife’s clothes (VERY bad). Leave the pen “on the counter” at the store? Someone steals it. I “steal” other pens so I try not to take it personal. Leave the pen on my desk? That’s great! That pen on/in my desk doesn’t do me any good when I’m in the car.
Now the pen is all well and good, but having boxes of pens in each room isn’t the same as that one pen– at the right time– to save what’s really important…THE IDEA.
How does this relate to the writer? Someone once said to the affect of: If you want to write better copy, go do something else. What was meant by that was the brain has a really cool place (probably the sub-concious) where good writing happens. It needs to “rest”. While it’s resting, it keeps working on that problem scene or character, then RIGHT in the middle of doing something else, the brain gives the writer that wonderful idea on how to fix that scene/character/problem.
No pen? No idea. It’s gone.
Now for you, the “double emergency” pen may need to be in the cup with your toothbrushes, or next to the bed for those 3AM flashes of light, or it might even need to be between your ear and your head (if you can keep it there, I can’t). Where you put it doesn’t really matter– as long as the pen is “available” when you need it….and the pen does not move….from it’s special place.
Use your phone? Sure…that might work too. What if your phone is dead? Cell phones need…you know…electricity…. Leave your phone at home? No great ideas remembered that day….nope.
No paper? No problem. If the idea is THAT important, you can always write on your arm if you have to (it comes off eventually, promise).
The power of the pen is NOT in the pen itself, but in the IDEA that it records.