Why You Should (+ How to) Act IMMEDIATELY When Hit With Inspiration

Last Updated on: September 21st, 2016

image that displays a quote about taking action

Do you take action when you are hit with a moment of inspiration? You should… regardless of what you are doing!

Read on to find out why.

My Inspirational Nugget of Wisdom Once Disappeared

A few weeks ago, I had an idea for a blog post that I thought was simply brilliant. I went to the dashboard of my website, opened a “new” post, wrote something in the “title” field and a few sentences, then went to find some cool images to use in my post, and then… blanked out.

My idea did not get fully developed. My inspiration had disappeared. All I was left with was… a few really cool pictures that I found.

I was upset with myself. I knew I should have written down everything the moment my inspirational idea hit me.

Now, try as I might, I cannot retrieve that glimmering thought from the recesses of my brain.

Ugh!

I know I’m not alone

Has the same thing ever happened to you? Have you ever forgotten what you were going to say?

Have you ever gone into your office (or kitchen, or bedroom, or another room) to get something, and then “forgot” what you went there for?

(I can see you nodding.)

We’ve all been in that situation, I know. That is why you need to act IMMEDIATELY when you are hit with inspiration… so you DON’T forget.

Why You Should Act Immediately When Inspiration Hits

Our brains are like computers,  but only to a point.

Although we have an information retrieval system, we tend to only remember that which is most familiar to us.

We struggle with “new” ideas, ideas that are “outside-of-the-box,” and ideas that bring us outside of our comfort zones.

This is why it is often difficult to “hold that thought” when we have it.

And this is why we should IMMEDIATELY write it down. So we don’t forget it!

In addition, when you are hit with inspiration and plan to write it (or about it) at a later time, chances are you will not remember your initial excitement, why you were so inspired, and so, when you finally do write about it, the magical feelings will have dissipated or disappeared completely.

Others have testified to this, too:

When it finds you, act, don’t wait, act!

– taken from Don’t go searching for inspiration

I’ve learned over the years that if I don’t write these flashes of inspiration down straight way, they’re usually gone forever, or even worse remembered but not understood in the same clarity of when they were received.

– taken from When you are inspired – act immediately! (UPDATE: THIS LINK NO LONGER IS VALID, SO IT HAS BEEN REMOVED)

[Tweet “Why You Should Act Immediately When Inspiration Hits #memorytips”]

How to Act Immediately When Inspiration Hits

Because I don’t want this to happen to you (or to me… again!), I’ve put together a list of 5 actionable things to do to help you to remember your inspirational idea.

Do these 5 Actions When Hit with Inspiration

1. Write it down. Quickly. BEFORE you forget. Use Evernote. Use Post-Its. Record it… somehow!

Ideas slowly trickle into your mind. And before you know it, you’re infused with passion and carried away in that magical state of ‘flow’ where the world fades away and nothing matters but you and the words in front of you.

– taken from Kat Eden’s guest post on Write to Done: Why You Should Stop Waiting for Inspiration

2. Develop it as much as you can while the idea is fresh in your mind.

3. Don’t worry about sentence structure, grammar, editing your writing, or even typos! Get it out, onto paper or an electronic device, as fast as you can. There’ll be time enough later for refinement.

4. Record yourself speaking all of the thoughts that are entering your mind. It’s not going to make sense to anyone listening, but that’s okay. The recording is for you, not anyone else. You can play it later and use it as a tool to help you organize and develop it.

5. If you happen to be in the shower when inspiration hits, repeat the main idea to yourself and focus on it as much as possible until you can record it or make a note of it. If you prefer bathtubs to showers, keep a pen and notepad next to the tub so that you can capture your glimmering idea when you are hit with it.

When I don’t have access to Evernote or Post-it Notes, I use repetition. I repeat key aspects of the blog idea until I’m able to jot down the idea. This isn’t the most reliable part of the system, but it works.

– taken from How I Remember Ideas for Blog Posts

[Tweet “Do these 5 Actions When Hit with Inspiration!”]

What Bloggers and Writers Do

Many bloggers and writers tend to keep an “Ideas Notebook” where they can record their ideas for blog posts, stories, or articles. But not everyone takes the time to develop their ideas in the moment.

I looked at my list of blog post ideas from the past year and realized the majority of them were inspired by another event, article, or conversation I had. Many of them are still relevant, but they never got down on paper(or digital text in this case.) I could still write them today, but they wouldn’t have the same voice, the same drive, and the same excitement that they would have had months ago when the inspiration was there.

– taken from Write It Down When the Inspiration Hits

[Tweet “Take the time to develop your idea when inspiration hits you!”]

Most writers also tend to be more aware of the memory-retrieval phenomena, too, and so generally grab napkins, pieces of scrap paper, tissues, cigarette packages, cardboard, envelopes, or even garbage to write on when they are suddenly struck with an idea that might be mined into a gem. They know – know – that they won’t be able to recall it at a later time and so write down as much as possible while they’re cognizant of their potential brilliance.

I’m not sure why I didn’t follow my own advice a few weeks ago. I’m still kicking myself.

But now we all have a good strategy to implement so that this doesn’t happen again.

[Tweet “Have you ever forgotten what you were going to say, or write about? #memorytips”]

Your Turn: What do YOU do when inspiration hits?

What other things can you do to ensure you WON’T forget your wonderful ideas?

Which practices do you currently use to keep track of your thoughts or concepts?

When and/or where does inspiration tend to hit YOU? (What kinds of activities are you doing? Where are you doing them?)

I love hearing from my readers!

See you in the comments!

 

54 thoughts on “Why You Should (+ How to) Act IMMEDIATELY When Hit With Inspiration

    • says

      Ryan, you’re sooo right about this!

      I have, many times, started something, only to leave it sit… for too long. 🙁

      I think we all have been guilty of this at some point!

  1. says

    Don’t worry about sentence structure, grammar, editing your writing, or even typos! Get it out, onto paper or an electronic device, as fast as you can. There’ll be time enough later for refinement.

  2. says

    I have found this to be the case more times than I care to remember. Struck by a bolt of brilliance only to have it erased from my mind moments later. I did start, a few years back, scribbling down notes without structure just as you mentioned.

  3. Jesse says

    We’ve all been in that situation, I know. That is why you need to act IMMEDIATELY when you are hit with inspiration… so you DON’T forget.

  4. Raymond says

    If you prefer bathtubs to showers, keep a pen and notepad next to the tub so that you can capture your glimmering idea when you are hit with it.

  5. This actually happens every single day to me! When I have an inspiration, I just write down the “title” and get back to it later. But when the time comes to go into depth, all the steam and passion are out of it.

    From now on I will use your advice, to write down as much as possible, the moment the inspiration hits. Hopefully that way I can salvage some of my ideas for future blog posts

  6. Dr. Nicolas Rao says

    I was rambling as usual. Sorry. Yes! Lorraine I write on any scrap of paper at hand. Since most of my ideas are sparked off by images or script I am reading for this particular project which I mentioned in my previous mail, my ” Inspirational” group..my fastest method is take a quick shot with my phone. Whether it is an image or script it makes no difference. I take a shot. If there is no writing pad I scribble on anything available- whatever and then take a shot.
    All the photos are in my phone for instant retrieval so as the phone goes where ever I go, it has become my best storage medium
    Later I reshoot, scan or type script, use an app and add an image with a nice font etc.
    Since photography is my passion. Often the photos I want are there but the light is not right or my equipment is not with me. In these instances too I take a shot. Save it and return at the proper time if possible and take a proper photo.
    Ideas too are sketched or written down and snapped on phone.
    So every morning my work is on the phone…the rough stuff and finished. Sharing from phone to Social media is one click away so I share the same thing sometimes to my whats app group, my FB page and twitter.
    I hope this idea is useful to others.
    Actually since I am the handy man at home and often fix others computers..I got into this habit of taking snap shots every time I remove a wire of screw…so when putting things back together there is no confusion.
    The other day we painted the living room and I had to remove all the myriad cables that go into the TV, Sound system, Disk player etc. So all were photographed before dissembling and reassembling was easy.
    Thats my tip. Use your phone. It does miracles.
    Nicolas

    • says

      Dr. Nicolas, I love your idea of taking a picture during each step of the “fixing” process! What a great idea!

      I’m going to have to remember that the next time I have to “move” something, as I always struggle with where cords should go.

      Thanks for sharing, and have a great week. 🙂

  7. Hi Lorraine,

    I really, really hate it when I lose an idea. I can remember feeling so lost when I had a great idea and as soon as it came into my mind, BOOM… it was gone.

    That is so frustrating.

    The worse one for me is the shower. What is up that one? Every single time I get into the shower I get a great idea. I solved the problem by purchasing a dry erase board that is water proof. LOL… I’m not letting that idea get away that easy.

    Otherwise, I always have my iPad with me. I record my idea ASAP. It’s funny, some of my best ideas come while I’m coaching or consulting with a client or just through regular conversations. I also always have a pad of paper with me and I can take quick notes. I just the need the basic idea and I can always develop it later.

    I bet I have 30 ideas for articles or videos right now. It’s really fun and exciting.

    It’s funny, I sometimes forget to follow my own advice as well. It’s part of being human. I like to have fun with it… I might as well get something out of it, right?

    I hope you have an awesome finish to your week. Thanks for the opportunity to connect with you on Triberr!

    ~ Don Purdum

    • says

      Don, I have to laugh at your waterproof dry erase white board. I don’t know if you are truly serious or just making a joke!

      It’s funny how one simple conversation – or comment – can ignite a spark within us, isn’t it? That’s why one can never be fully prepared when inspiration hits us, but having a few strategies in place sure makes things easier for us to handle it when it does. It sounds like you have some good strategies in place already, too!

      I’m still learning Triberr so don’t expect miracles from me, but I’m happy to have you in one of my tribes. 🙂

      I appreciate your comments, Don. 🙂

  8. Dr. Nicolas Rao says

    I make pdf’s instantly, easy enough on a Mac. But lately found that I had more pdf’s than I could read, so began selecting my best and transferring them to USB to read on Android tablet, which I also take to the throne, and my phone using Bluetooth. Voila!
    I would also recommend , separate a few in a special folder to read often.
    Make it to read at least one, before booting up anything, even switch of Wifi so nothing comes into the tablet while you are reading.

    Doing something everyday for a while, makes is a habit. I have an inspirational group of about 15 people on whatsapp. My first move every morning after waking up and praying, yes I pray, is posting something I have already saved for the group. Later after my morning reading of inspirational matter – my Bible or a Daily might is already a habit, I use a text art app and make a small quote..share it on the group.
    In the beginning I got a few responses mostly out of kindness and some being polite. Both my daughters kept mum, but as the day went by post came in, close friends put in prayer requests, others; questions about health, Yes! I am a doctor.
    Today, I was late but there were posts in my group already.
    It has been two months now. I haven’t missed a day.

    Sometimes I feel crappy and do not feel like inspiring anybody, least of all myself, and feel like going back to bed – but I don’t. I just post something saved in advance and after my morning meds( at 63 with age related problems-no other way it seems) I post the text art.
    I sit with my cup of coffee, beside an open door to my private little part of a larger yard. I take care of the little space, the plants etc and my camera is always by my side for any pretty bird, or insect..whatever, maybe just the light on leaves or maybe my dog. I have a large, rather unkempt yard, full of trees and bird song. So its a lovely way to start the day….most days sigh!
    Well! That’s a gist of something that has happened long enough to be an event for me. So guess its a start. Secret is of course “commitment” and by including people i have known for many years, it does not feel good to let it go to sleep and that adds motivation to my “inspirational.”

    Hope you like it. I will do a per functionary edit before sending.
    I do have a request. Can I share you photo of Pablo Picasso on my whatsapp group. It would add to my morning “inspirational” the name of my group. I am such a fan of PP that my daughter’s name is Paloma like his. 🙂
    Thanks for you mail. Am going to read it now.
    Nicolas

    • says

      Nicolas, it’s great to hear that you have such an inspirational job, and help to inspire others. But what do you when YOU are hit with inspiration? Do you record your thoughts right away?

      Thanks for sharing all you have; I appreciate it. It is nice to get to know you better through your comments. 🙂

  9. says

    As a blogger/writer I always have my pen and paper with me even when I am in my bed but I fall victim of not developing the stories immediately. I remember running out of the shower one fateful evening to pen down an inspired story but the funny part is that I am yet to develop it.
    I have learned to create a blue print for each inspired story that I cannot develop immediately. Anytime I read the blue print of any of my undeveloped stories it comes alive again.
    Thanks for this post, Lorraine.

    • says

      Chris, try taking a day off from everything else and spend some time developing your stories. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish when you leave everything else alone for a day or two!

      We all need time to recharge our batteries, and focussing on something different will do just that.

      One day, things might not come alive for you… so it is best to act on those ideas while they are still fresh in your mind.

      I wish you the best with this new strategy. Please let me know if it works out… if you remember. 😉

  10. says

    Hey Lorraine,

    Great post. It sucks when that happens.

    Happened to me quite a few times in the last few weeks … when I wasn’t home. And no matter how much I try to remember, I just can’t.

    I like your tip about writing it down quickly. I enter alot of post ideas into Evernote or I create the post, write a rough outline of my idea and save it as a draft. I have 34 in the draft right now and I’m planning to write each of them. Whether as my own post or for a guest post.

    What I did before was write them in the notepad on my phone but then I lost my phone last winter and there went my post ideas as well.

    But nonetheless, you’re right. If you have inspiration right there, write it down and don’t rely on your memory.

    Great post and thoughts shared. Have an awesome day.

    – Andrew

    • says

      Hi, Andrew. It’s great to see you visit Wording Well! 🙂

      I’m sorry to hear about your phone; I had mine stolen once and so I know how devastating it can be to NOT have something so valuable to you. It’s good to hear that now you have a smarter strategy in place for recording your ideas.

      I hope you are enjoying your weekend. See ya soon!

  11. Inspiration usually always hits me while driving. When it does, and since I can’t write it at that particular moment, I turn down any noise and envision it. I let it sit in my mind’s eye, developing it and fleshing it out in my mind. And believe it or not, I usually manage to keep the intensity until I can get to paper or Microsoft Word.

    Now if I could just get my mother and wife duties to stick so easily!

    • says

      E.G., if you know that inspiration tends to hit you when you are driving, get a voice recorder to record your ideas. Of course, if you can hold onto your thoughts until you can write them down, then maybe you don’t need to worry… although I think you might risk getting distracted at some point en route to paper – like your hubby or kids! 😉

  12. says

    I have to agree with you that I tend not to take the time to develop an idea in the moment. It seems many of my great ideas happen when I am in bed. Many times I will get up and write them down. The other thing I do to remember something is use letter association. When I get an idea and I am away from desk I am now using my cell phone writing it down in notes. Every little bit helps

    • says

      Arleen, I think many of us get great ideas just before we drift off to sleep! It’s good to hear that you are taking a proactive approach and writing them down! I know this is hard to do sometimes, especially when you are so comfortable in bed… but it’s important to record them, because you will likely have forgotten them by the next day.

      Maybe now you will try to develop your ideas a bit more in the moment, too. You might as well; you’re already getting up to record them! 😉

      Thanks for your comment, and have a great week ahead.

  13. Lorraine — that’s happened all to often for me. Even if you have to write the idea on a napkin while eating in a restaurant get the idea down. As you state, it’s also important to jot down some words and phrases that you associate with the idea. Those will likely become your key messages.

    • says

      Jeanette, writing down the key phrases and other words you associate with your idea is necessary to accurately remember your inspirational idea. The trouble most people have is acting on their impulse, generally due to not having the means to record their thoughts.

      Q/ What do you do when you are inspired when eating in a restaurant that has cloth serviettes?
      A/ Use your phone to record your ideas, or ask the server for a pen and paper. 😉

      Thanks for your comment, Jeanette, and have a great weekend!

  14. says

    Hi Lorraine,

    Oh yes this has happened to me many times. If I am not in the shower (and yes that is where I get ideas often) I do jot down the main point. Sometimes I look at it later and go “what the heck was this?” – because I have not expanded enough as you suggested.

    I have taken to recording now. I use my iPhone and just record my ideas. Again not in the shower 🙂

    And I have often used napkins or scraps of paper.

    Great post Lorraine as I am sure many posts never get written because they were not acted on at the time.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Sue

    • says

      Sue, thanks for sharing your experiences. It’s good to hear you now record your ideas when they come to you… and aren’t putting your phone at risk of drowning when you’re in the shower. 😉

      I think the smallest piece of paper I’ve ever written on was a piece of tinfoil from a cigarette package. Ugh. Flimsy paper! Plus, the pen makes an imprint in the foil. Double-ugh! But, hey, it was better than nothing…

      I’m reminded now that I should go write about 25 posts… I think that’s how many drafts I have saved. 😉

      Have a great weekend, too, Sue.

  15. says

    Hi Lorraine

    I have had my fair share of disappearing ideas. Most time when I take a walk, ideas come to my mind but they disappea by the time I get home. So i resonated with your message about keep a journal for ideas and I installed Evernote just now. Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      I’m so happy I was able to help you, Ikechi! Evernote is great. Everyone raves about it.

      (I confess I don’t actually use it myself, as I only have one device – my laptop – but I do have it on my laptop…)

      I hope you find it helpful. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing!

  16. This is soooo me! I used to think it was enough to jot down an idea to jog my memory later, but the older I get (and I’m not THAT old) I find that unless I flesh it out a little bit, I may not remember enough later to make anything out of it. So frustrating! I have so many notes on my phone, because it’s the only thing I won’t set down and forget where I put it. 🙂

    • says

      Meredith, I’m not THAT old either, and I can totally relate to the whole phone issue. Whenever I’m out and get inspired about a poem, I grab my phone and record a line or two… before I have time to forget. I tend to repeat the line over and over until I can find the “record audio” feature and activate it. That’s how short my memory can be. Yet, I can recite a poem I wrote when I was 15, without making any mistakes. 🙂

      Fleshing your ideas out when you are hit with inspiration is necessary, and I’m glad that you can attest to the fact that this method works.

      Thank you for your comment, Meredith. 😀

  17. Hi Lorraine, very nice post and it is hard to remember when an idea hits and that’s why I never go anywhere without a pen and paper. I carry a little notebook with me all the time and write down as much as I can about what I was thinking. Almost all of my books and especially my short stories began this way. When I get home, I put the idea into a larger notebook that I begin to expand it. I think of characters and put everything about that character in the notebook along with as much information that comes to me. It’s mostly scribbles because I can’t write as fast as I type, so no one else could probably read it or even want to, but I can and that’s all that matters. I tried putting it on the computer, but I’ve found for me, the notebook works better. I can take it out and add things to it, so while writing, I make sure I didn’t change someones hair color or something half way through the manuscript.

    • says

      Donna, it’s wonderful to hear about the method you use. Thanks for sharing your strategy with everyone. 🙂

      My handwriting is generally neat, but when I’m writing furiously, it’s barely decipherable, too. 😉 Even to me, sometimes… 😉

  18. says

    I have found this to be the case more times than I care to remember. Struck by a bolt of brilliance only to have it erased from my mind moments later. I did start, a few years back, scribbling down notes without structure just as you mentioned. I even started doing it with dreams. The problem with that is that half the time, in the light of day, I have no idea what I wrote when I look at it. Your points above are always good to keep in mind so you don’t let too many nuggets get away.

    • says

      Tim, I was wondering if anyone was going to mention dreams! LOL

      One thing to remember is to write down as much as possible – including the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW of your idea. That way, it will make more sense to you when you revisit it at a later time.

      Dreams often don’t make any sense and so I’m not even going to try offering suggestions about what to do with them. 😉

  19. This is why writers carry notebooks (or these days use note facilities on their phones) with them. If I have opportunity I try to jot a few notes about what inspired me right away. But I may not flesh it out or complete the piece at that time. If the idea is something that really grabs me it will occupy my mind for a while and percolate there until I am able to write it in a way I’m happy with. The frustrating times are the times I get a great idea just before falling asleep or waking up in the night and all I remember in the morning is that I had this really good idea but can’t remember what it was.

    • says

      Donna, if you are hit with inspiration at bedtime, I’d suggest keeping a pen and notepad on your bedside table so that you can quickly turn on the light and jot your ideas down. This will ensure that you have something to refer back to when you decide to develop your idea further.

      Often writers and bloggers let an idea “sit” but then lose the momentum to carry it through, or else they forget it.

      I understand the point you are making about letting the idea percolate, however. I do that, too!

  20. Excellent post and tips. I hate those moments when the inspiration slips away. Unfortunately, I have MS – multiple sclerosis – and that has its own memory-related problems, plus I’m wheelchair-bound. I can forget what I am writing from one word to the next. I have notebooks for ideas, as well as scraps of paper. If none are available – in the shower or in bed (having left the pen on my desk) – I have to use mind games like repetition and mnemonics.

    • says

      Roland, it seems like you have some great strategies in place to help you deal with whatever comes your way. Good for you!

      I particularly like that you mentioned mnemonics. Mnemonics are a great way to help you remember things. Acronyms are another.

      FYI, I can still remember all of the planets using the sentence: “Man Very Early Made Jars Stand Up Nearly Perpendicular.” Each word begins with a letter that correlates to a planet. The planets are Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

      Another one that most people are familiar with is “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge,” which correlates to the labelling of the lines on sheet music. FACE is the one that correlates to the spaces.

      Can you give us an example of something you use, and what it helps you remember?

      • Rather than use mnemonics like the ones that you mention, I tend to create my own to help me remember ideas. Such as plot sequences when I am half-awake or in the shower. I create a sentence where each first letter is a step/scene – often the sentence is also a reminder. Tried to find an example in a notebook but suspect they were scraps of paper initially. Also use acronyms – a single word where each letter yields an idea or phrase. These are also a means to keep my ‘little grey cells’ working – MS & old age are a debilitating mix.

        • says

          Roland, if what you are doing works well for you, then keep doing it! I tend to prefer remembering things with either a list or checklist, or a word or phrase that sparks further memories.

          I forget things, too. 🙁 I’m trying to remember now what I taught my son when he was going to grade school – he was supposed to do a “five-finger check” whenever he got home. One was putting on play clothes, one was putting his lunchbox in the sink, one was giving notes/correspondence from school, and… darned if I can recall the other two…

          I know this doesn’t really relate to our conversation, but I was trying for the last few days to recall these. I thought I’d share this with you. I hope you don’t mind.

          I think I’ll have to ask my son if he remembers the 5-finger check… 😀

          His memory should be better than mine!

          It was good to see you comment again, Roland. I’ve missed you.

  21. Couldn’t agree with you more. Turn everything else off and follow the inspiration. It’s never the same if you wait, and from the standpoint of a writer, you lose the commitment and enthusiasm you need to produce your best stuff. I’ve tried to write stuff on my phone while waiting for a subway, anything to not lose the moment.

    • says

      Ken, you make a great point. When you say “it’s never the same when you wait,” I know you are referring to how you can lose the momentum that you feel building inside when you are hit with inspiration. I couldn’t agree more!

  22. says

    This also happened to me few times that all my Inspiration just vanished from my mind before I was able to record it.
    Sometimes we really have a nice idea by intuition and best is to record it as soon as quickly.
    The way it comes to mind , it disappears in same way …..quickly 🙂
    Now I always have paper and pen with me and when I have any idea I try to write down the outline and if I am free I start writing about it.
    The tips are good and I will try to follow these to have better results to record inspiration.

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