Everyone's heard the story of Harry Potter's birth -- the train ride, the cafe, all that jazz. Right? By now, it's morphed into something of a legend. And sometimes you have to be careful with legends, becayse it's easy to lose the moral of the story in them.
I mean, I'm not a huge fan of morals in stories -- not obvious ones, anyway. All too often, they ruin the story, and we can't have that. Still, J.K.'s lesson has a pretty important point in it:
Always have something with you to write on, and always write your ideas down, no matter how stupid or inconsequential those ideas might seem.
It doesn't matter if you're writing on paper, a McDonald's sack, your hand (or arm, for those massive, detailed ideas), or typing it out on a cell phone. (For the record, if you don't have a pen or notepad app, I learned a couple of years ago that you can text yourself. This also means explaining to others why you have yourself saved in your contacts, but whatever.) Anywho. Most writers always have portable means to write with; I don't really need to say much about that part.
Back to that "no matter how stupid or inconsequential" bit I mentioned earlier. You know those tiny thoughts that sometimes flit through your subconscious -- the ones that don't make much sense, or seem incredibly random, or not even slightly important? Like "Taj Mahal" or "death by elevator shaft" or "what if..."? Probably a good idea to write those down, too. You never know when one of those thoughts could connect with something else, some bigger, and turn into your next Big Idea.
There's nothing worse than having some almost-memory tickle the edges of your brain, only to realize you've forgotten what that oh-so-wizard idea was.
So what about you? What's the oddest string of words you've ever written down as an idea trigger? Have you ever had one of those random thoughts merge with a bigger-scale idea?