Inspiration Strikes at the Worst of Times

Author Greta Burroughs

by Greta Burroughs

For the last week, I have been sitting at my computer, wracking my brain trying to finish a short story. After seven days of madly typing away, only four paragraphs appear on the screen in front of me. The countless hours working on this one story and that is all I have to show for it? The right words elude me. I have deleted more material than I have saved. Where is my inspiration? Why won’t the words come to me? Have I lost my ability to write?

Desperation has set in. All I can think about is the stupid story. I need a distraction, maybe some housework. No, too close to the computer. How about yard work? Nope, I still look at the window of my office and the siren song from my computer lures me back inside.

Ah ha, an escape, I have a doctor’s appointment. I hate going to the doctor’s office but the nervousness and dread offer something new to occupy my battered mind – a couple of hours away from the pull of my computer, just what I need.

While sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, inspiration strikes. The words I have been desperately searching for come to me. That’s it, that’s perfect, but I don’t have access to my computer, not even a tape recorder or notepad. I’ve got to get these thoughts down before I lose them. Why now, why here?

The other folks sitting next to me are staring; did I say something out loud? I don’t care what they think. I have to write this down before I forget it.

I run up to the receptionist and blurt out, “I need paper and a pen…oh, and can I borrow your clipboard?” I don’t want to say too much or the words in my head might escape from my one track mind. I nervously pace back and forth muttering to myself while I wait.

Finally, after years…er minutes of waiting, she calmly hands over the requested materials into my shaking hands. Somehow I make it back to my seat, still muttering to myself while scribbling down the words that had been repeating over and over in my brain.

All eyes are upon me, have I grown a second head or something? Hasn’t anyone else ever had a flash of inspiration before or are the giggles that accompany my writing too much for everyone to bear.

I hear voices coming from the office; two men approach me carrying a large white jacket. Distractions, not now, can’t these people understand I am having an epiphany, a moment of shear genius.

“I’m not crazy, I’m an author…just a few more sentences …” are my last words before being taken away to a padded cell. At least they let me keep my notes, now how do I get a computer in here…


Greta Burroughs has been a teacher, grocery store cashier, office manager, and a FAA written test examiner. She started her writing career as a freelance reporter for a local newspaper after being diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called ITP. The experience gained in her career as a news reporter paved the way to experimenting with writing longer pieces which eventually became books. Now, Greta has three published books and is working on two more. Learn more about Greta and her writing from her blog and her Amazon Author page. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.


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36 thoughts on “Inspiration Strikes at the Worst of Times”

  1. Great post! I bought a little tape recorder a long time ago to keep in my car – never really used it though. My brain remembers words – just nothing else. 🙂

    1. Thanks JD,

      I have a tape recorder that I used to carry with me all the time when I was working for a newspaper. Now it just sits in the office. I never think about arrying it with me anymore!

  2. I love this. Scraps of paper, napkins, even tissues (clean) and my hand have stood in for note taking.

    1. A L,

      I have been known to carry a handful of note-filled napkins out of Mickey D's…

  3. Really nice post, made me smile, thank you. Don't want to sound like a swot, but for years I've been carrying a very small notepad with miniture pen for those moments. When that inspiration hits, the worst thing is to have to talk to someone. Funnily enough, I hardly ever use the notepad because I'm never far from a computer (either work or home), but boy is it comforting to know it's there, just in case.

    1. Chris,

      I learned my lesson the hard way. From now on I go prepared and will probably never need it…

  4. Oh I've been there! I remember finally determining just where the plot needed to go…on the way to work. Yikes!

    And as an odd aside, my middle child had ITP too. Fortunately, just the acute variety though.

    1. MM,

      Did you talk to yourself until you got to work and could write it down?

      Your middle child was very fortunate to not be stuck on this terrible roller coaster called ITP.

      1. I did talk to myself! And every time I had a spare moment through the day…and all the way home…and through the bedtime routine, LOL.

  5. Love it! I was wondering what you were at the doctor's office for…LOL. My inspirations tend to come on walks and in the shower. But they feel just as you describe.

    1. Peggy,

      Having a blood disorder like ITP, I have to go to the hematologist's (vampire's)office on a regular basis. I would rather be on a walk or in the shower!!!

  6. I get those inspirations in the gym. I ask for a piece of paper, but the college students who run the place never heard of paper. Or pens. If I do manage to get something to write with and on, I jot a note to myself. Usually it's too sloppily written for me to understand what it says.

    1. Dave,

      I cannot read my own writing. That's why I started using the tape recorder while working for the newspaper.

    1. So true, Donna. :)Then I would have gone to jail instead of the funny farm….

  7. Lol!!! So funny Greta!!!

    The men in white jackets are coming – duck!!!

    Inspiration does come at the wierdest times. I've been writing a book of haiku and they come when I'm in the shower, and there's no way to write them down, so you repeat them in your head, but by the time you get out of the shower, you do something else, think I'll write it in a minute, and then, damn it, it's been zapped by the failure of the brain mass! We're all crazies!!! 🙂

  8. I put a recorder in the car for that very reason, but the only thing on it is a colorful series of road rage incidents…

  9. Mine always come when I am supposed to be sleeping – like at 3 am. If I get up it's gone by the time I sit at the computer, If I saay in bed it's gone in the morning. I'll remember snatches but I just KNOW it's not the genius I had.

    1. Yvonne,

      Keep a tape recorder beside your bed. In the morning when you play it back, you'll wonder who that strange sleepy voice was…

      1. Greta – good idea if you sleep alone.:-)

        I can just imagine what my other half would say if he woke to hear me mumbling into a recorder. Hey, that might be an idea for a story all by itself!

        Me, fumbling in the dark to turn the d*&n thing on.

        Mark, "What are you doing? You OK? What's wrong?"

        "Oh, nothing. Just got inspired. Now where is that button. Oh, crap, now you made me lose my train of thought."

        "Sorry, go back to sleep."

        "Yeah, right. Now it's gone. You really think I'll get back to sleep now."

        "Well, what about me? I'm wide awake now, too. And I have a deadline tomorrow."

        Two angry logs, lie side by side pretending they don't know the other one is doing the same, neither getting another wink.

        Hmmm, I think I'll leave that one for the 'other' couples. lol

        Seriously, though, Greta, I do appreciate the suggestion. It will likely work for some.

        1. Well it was just a thought, Yvonne, My hubby already knows I'm crazy but the dogs do look at me funny when I talk to myself…

          1. I'll bet they're waiting for treats. I can just see the expectation in their cocked heads. "Is it breakfast time already, Mommy? Yeah. Yeah. Pant, pant. Me first." lol

            Sometimes I think dogs know us better than we do ourselves.

            And you must be a lucky woman to have such an understanding hubby. Mine is about a lot of things, but sleep? Not so much. 🙂

            Hold on to your inspirations.

  10. My iPhone has a Notes feature, oh happy day! I can't type *quite* as fast with my thumbs as I can with all my fingers, but I should get better at it shortly, as I'm getting lots of practice… 😉

  11. LOL, funny post! Loved it. I especially hate it when I'm on the back 60 of our 100 acre farm and inspiration hits. Out in the Gator with nothing to write on/in/under/over. Crap! So I race home and by the time my computer boots up- POOF! Gone!

    When I was in the military and worked in a hospital, sticky notes were my best friend.

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