Donna Everhart

Money For Scrap Paper

About five years ago, I used to complete a ten mile run every Saturday morning.  It was on one of those runs, for a variety of reasons, I ended up with double sfx.  It took close to three years before I felt I could run without the idea my leg would break.  But then, here came a bout of runner’s knee, and in the past eighteen months, the never ending plantar fasciitis.  The PF is much better, but still plagues me some days.  Despite all that, I’ve been thinking about increasing my miles again (ten percent rule!) so I can get back into my long run.  I used to love it, and I miss it – especially that time alone to just think.

The whole idea of a long run is to acclimate your body to distance, and so, they are generally run slower.  For instance, you should do long runs at about a minute to two minutes slower than your usual race pace.  Towards the end, when I was conditioned, I ran about a ten minute mile on these runs, and they took around an hour and forty minutes to finish.   That’s a lot of time to think.  Just me, nature, and my brain.

When I became serious about finishing my first book, I came up with the perfect ending on one of those runs.  But…there I was.  Five miles out, on an out and back, and nothing to write with.  (I was obviously green and still learning how to be prepared as a writer).  I had no way to capture it – except to try and keep it in my head.  But that’s the thing, see.  When you go on a run like that, you can tell yourself all sorts of lies.

Like, “Oh! I’ll remember that!  That’s such a great idea, how could I forget?”

Here’s how.  Two miles later, my mind had somehow drifted off to to think about something else.  When I circled back around to the book, I realized no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember the “great” ending.  I couldn’t believe it.  It had briefly floated into my consciousness only to float right back out.  That’s the thing about running that long, you never know when some of those eureka moments will come zipping into your head when you least expect it.  It’ll swoop in, and when it does, you better have some way of capturing it.

To this day, I remember that happening and how it felt.  How frustrated I was because I’d been spinning and spinning on how to end the story.  I am better prepared these days, what with my little notebooks everywhere.  I have them in my pocketbook, the glove compartments of all our vehicles, scattered around upstairs and downstairs.  I swore up and down, I’d never be without a way to jot an idea for a WIP down.  But what if I happen to be somewhere and run out of paper?  Improvise!  I don’t care what it is, I will use anything, and I mean anything, as a piece of scrap paper.  A napkin, the back of a receipt, a fast food bag, a menu, toilet paper, and, once, even money.

Yes, I’ve done that. 

Have you?  If not, what’s the strangest thing you’ve written your golden idea on?


10 thoughts on “Money For Scrap Paper”

  1. My hand and those annoying order cards that flutter out of magazines when you pick them up. I’ve written many a note on them.
    My husband is an independent contractor, his notations and measurements are always scribbled on a piece of scrap wood like a two by four or shingle.

  2. My husband does the same work…and I can relate. I’ve seen not only measurements, but a concept or idea sketched directly on a wall that is to be painted. I walked into one of our bathrooms a few years back and saw the layout of what the renovation should include – right by the toilet. The man never stops working.

  3. Anything will do – the trick is to write the idea down coherently. I’m getting pretty good at writing in the dark (motel notepad under pillow when sleeping in the V-berth of my sailboat) . My young writer friend Corey puts notes to himself on his phone, which he always has with him.

    1. Sailboat!! (swoon)

      I totally creep myself out leaving messages to myself! I did this once back when I was working at a large corporation. It was a weekend, and I remembered something I needed to do first thing Monday morning. I called my office line and left a vm on it. When I listened to it on Monday, it just seemed so WEIRD. Plus I can’t stand the sound of my voice. I’ve also used a mini tape recorder (on those long runs) and aside from sounding winded, there was a tendency to ramble along. I became impatient trying to listen to myself get to the point. Geez, how does anyone else stand talking to me?

  4. I learned to always carry something with me. I have a notebook app on my smartphone now, but back in the days preceeding mobile phones, I once found myself at a loss. The pen I faithfully kept on my keyring had gotten lost, and I was D E S P E R A T E.

    So I scratched notes into my arm with a safety pin I happened to have on me.

  5. Ah, the long-run insights! I manage to remember them, in part because I just keep restating them in my head to match my cadence. I’ve found that if an idea is good, and I’ve forgotten it, it will tend to come back to me. Even so, I keep a notepad beside me at the office, in my car, at my little cabin in the woods, around the house, and so on. Writing it down really does help.

    1. Yes! Long run “insights.” I need one badly at the moment. I suppose if that idea didn’t come back – it wasn’t so great. And the book was finished, and went on submission, so I’m over it, but…still. It was a head knocker…at the time.

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