questionmarkHow come I get all my best ideas when I’m jogging? Any experience with this phenomenon?

— Ben
Los Angeles

It’s because your brain hates you.

Well, maybe not hates. After all, it is giving you what you want — a good idea. It’s just that its timing is atrocious. It’s like having a girlfriend who is only in the mood for love during the last 20 minutes of Lost. You have to choose between sex and seeing the underwater station for the first time.

Here’s my advice: always choose sex. Because if you don’t, eventually, you’ll stop being offered it.

Those great ideas that come while you’re jogging? Write ’em down or you’ll lose them — and worse, you may dry up the well of ideas. If your brain notices you’re not paying attention to the good ideas it generates, it may decide to stop bothering. And then you’re screwed.

So always carry a pen. Pick up a piece of paper trash. Write on your hand if you have to. It’s often just one or two words which will let you remember what the idea was.

For me, the majority of these inconvenient ideas come at 11:30 at night, as I’m trying to fall asleep. There’s a weighing process as I decide whether it’s worthy of hauling my ass to the bathroom, where I keep a notebook handy to scribble down these ideas. Probably 70% of the time, I do get out of bed. At least half of the “big ideas” in The Nines were first scribbled down in this book, along with the plots of enough unwritten movies to keep me busy for a decade.

This is part of what sucks about being a writer. I have a hunch that accountants don’t have this problem.