I've experienced many weird writing scenarios in my time, but the one that just popped into mind came a few years ago. I was on the road and on the go nearly all day, so I decided to stop at a restaurant for a much needed meal before driving the last two hours home.
Two seconds after I was seated, a brand new story idea popped into my mind. Everyone here should already know what I was going through: these thoughts were not going to be denied, so I was going to turn this into a 'working dinner.' No biggie, I was a veteran of that sort of thing.
Two seconds after that, I realized I did not bring my notebook with me.
I asked the server for a pen, and used the paper placemat as my new notebook. The ideas flowed faster than I could write, and I just about filled up the entire placemat before I even looked at the menu.
A minute or two after placing my order, the server came back with my drink and a half dozen placemats. "You looked busy."
Needless to say, that server got a generous tip.
And my thoughts on that day were eventually translated into two WotF Honorable Mention stories.
Those are two pretty awesome stories. Mine's not that cool, but it was memorable!
I had just started what was supposed to be a short story while spending a month in Kyoto, Japan. I was stuck (long story short) at an elementary school waiting for a ride, and was so bored I sneaked into a deserted classroom and storyboarded on the chalkboard until I had turned that short story into a five-novel series I'm still working on. Problem was I had to erase it all, and later rewrite it from memory.
So moral of the story is: if you're gonna write important stuff, find something more permanent than a chalkboard in a borrowed classroom! :P
Woke up from a dream that I really felt had story potential, but we were going to spend the day with our kids at an amusement park. So I took a notebook, and wrote the story while I stood in the various ride lines (queues) with the kids.
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@ J. N. Khoury I have been known to do work on a whiteboard, then photograph it so I can have a copy of my efforts for when I get home. Just be careful the flash doesn't reflect too much against the board's surface.
@ Kathleen I was in a similar situation at Hershey Park a few summers ago. The ideas were churning, and the lines were at a near standstill, but I left my digital recorder at home, so I used my camera's video capabilities to record my thoughts. At one point, one of my kids saw me riding in a ski lift chair by myself, talking to my camera; she said it looked 'weird'. But, at least I captured my thoughts. Too bad the story ultimately turned out to be a dud.
Whenever possible, I write during my commute and lunch break. A notebook and/or a file folder with notes and white space goes with me every day. Sometimes, the bus and shuttle are packed so tight that fellow passengers don't bother apologizing for staring over my shoulder, and I have to worry that if a page drops, it will be lost forever.
My computer desk is not my favorite place to write. The bit of available floor in our craft room is more comfortable late at night; our guest bedroom presents fewer distractions when critiquing/editing (but due to the case of non-fiction in the room, offers too many distractions for drafting); and friends' houses, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, parks, and even the buses offer human interaction or fantastic views when I lift my head.
I've written passages and notes on napkins, placemats, rejected office papers stolen from recycle bins at the office, this year's voting guide, receipts,...if it's paper and unneeded for something else, I've probably used a bit of it. I've also emailed work to myself from borrowed computers, recorded notes on a voice recorder, and brainstormed with markers on mirrors.
Hmmm, some interesting and fun stories here already. Some should be included in a book on writing sometime.
Anyway, the most memorial writing event that I can think of was at work. I had my first laptop and needed a plug in because the battery connection no longer worked. I work in a shop and sometimes I get to work early enough to write before work starts...might have been lunch...I sat down at a table in the welding shop but someone was working behind me, making up time. I spent 20 or so minutes writing with a hand grinder going about ten feet behind me, every so often some sparks would come over my shoulder. Guess they wanted to read my story.
About the weirdest was when I was younger. We lived up north, in a house without central air, and in the summers my room roasted. However, it was always cool in the basement, and when it got too much I set up my typewriter down there and wrote.
Not much...but, when circumstances got weird(er), I generally didn't write at all...writing at work doesn't work, not even notes-to-myself, 'cause when I'm on the job I don't have time and when I'm on break or lunch I'm too sleepy...once in a while on vacation I scribble something down, like a poem, but not at all lately...I can't dictate things so that lets out, say, the car.
I do a lot of thinking about writing in all these places, but not much actual writing...
Well, this isn't much, but I wrote a play during my son's high school basketball games his senior year. It was quite the raucous environment as I sat there furtively writing in the bleachers. Interestingly, that particular play has been my most successful and lucrative to date!
I wrote my entire first novel on a Palm Pilot with a teensy tiny infrared keyboard.
I'd keep both in my purse and go to the coffee shop for 2 hours four days a week and just slam out 4000 words (during November 07, my first National Novel Writing Month.) I was highly motivated with a busy preschooler and 1st grader at home most of the time, those two hours four times a week were my sanity. And my teensy tiny writing solution meant I could also eke out a few more words while sitting outside their bedrooms waiting for them to fall asleep at night (the palm is backlit, though the keyboard is not. Luckily I touch type.)
That novel's out in the mail as we speak, looking for just the right publisher. I usually use a laptop these days for Nano, but I got an iPad for Christmas and am debating an ipad dock/stand and bluetooth keyboard...even smaller than a laptop. I already have loads of fun and success with a capacitive stylus and a note-taking app called "Penultimate" just doing hand written notes.