I really have to start writing down the ideas that seem to come to me right before I go to bed. I used to but I’ve gotten out of the habit. Getting ideas out of the blue at bedtime hasn’t happened much in a few years but I used to get all sorts of inspiration just before I was going to sleep at night or when I was actually in bed and about to fall asleep. It would be an idea for whatever. A story, a character, a project, a blog, a picture, or just about anything else could come to me. I don’t know why things would come to me then but they would.

They thing about having an idea come to me as I’m going to bed is that I don’t want to be bothered to write it down just then. I’d prefer to hit the sack and go to sleep. Anything that interrupts that is just plain annoying. Plenty of times I would say to myself, “I’m tired. I’ll write that idea down in the morning” only to have forgotten the idea by morning. Y’know what’s weird? I can remember that I had an idea but not what that idea was. There has to be some sort of name for that phenomenon.

In my early days of getting such an idea I would jot it down with pen and paper. That was jarring. Getting up and turning on a light right after I had gone to bed was not a pleasant thing. I thought I could circumvent all that by keeping a pen, notebook, and flashlight by my bedside but that didn’t quite work out. It sure seemed easier than getting up and turning on the overhead light and, to an extent, it was but the problem was writing in bed. Have you ever tried writing in bed by flashlight? It’s not easy. Where do you lean? On a pillow? Maybe prop yourself up? It take two hands to write without a table to put the paper down on. It’s a tough little juggle of elbows, hands, pen, and paper. All while groggy.

All that fumbling with paper in the dark eventually lead me to get a small tape recorder. That way I could leave the lights off, press a button, and speak my idea. It was less interruptive in that I could do it without lights but more interruptive in that I had to form words and speak them. I found out that wasn’t so easy. I kind of had to wake my brain up nearly all the way to speak. It wasn’t the same way with writing. I could form sentences and write them down fairly easily even when a little groggy with sleep but to speak sentences took even more waking up. I have no idea why that was. It was also a little odd listening to myself on a tape recorder the next day.

Over the years I got out of the habit of writing down ideas that came to me while going to bed. Or maybe I stopped getting ideas at bed time. I’m not sure which came first. I haven’t used my little tape recorder in at least a decade but I have a small idea notebook that’s kept in my studio and I will occasionally get up write something in. That’s a pretty rare event though.

Yet over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that things have started to come to me at around bedtime again. I’d tell you what they are but I can’t remember them. Just last night as I was turning in for the night I had an idea for something I wanted to write about in this blog. It wasn’t a big something but a small germ of an idea. I didn’t write it down and I’ve forgotten it. Maybe it will come back but if the past is an indicator it won’t. Weird.

I’ve had some overlapping ideas this week. That’s another strange idea related topic. Overlapping ideas are when I working on one thing and have a full blown idea epiphany for what I want to do next. It’s rare but can also be cumbersome. This week I started working on my first large canvas in half a year or so. I made the sketch for this one back in June but it’s a large complex image that I knew would take me a while to paint so I never quite got started on it until now.

This week I got that painting underway. I started with the rather long process of painting in the base colors. Laying in the base colors can be a boring process so my mind wanders while I do it. During this time I actually came up with something else I wanted to do. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s better to be excited about what I’m actually working on rather than what I might be working on.

I had to muscle my way through the boring part of the painting I got going and try not to be distracted by other ideas. That’s the problem with having a lot of ideas in my head all at once. They can all fight with each other and distract me from the task at hand. But I was able to fight off the new idea long enough to get through the boring underpainting. With that part done I could work on the more fun part of the painting. The improvisational meat of it. The part that’s about putting paint on canvas in an interesting way.

This doesn’t mean that the overlapping idea goes away. It’s not bedtime so I remember what it was. Of course that also doesn’t mean that the second idea will still be as well formed and interesting after I get through my current painting. Maybe I should write the idea down in my notebook now that I think about it. This second idea is still going to get done it’s just not knocking on the door of my here and now anymore. It’s no longer a distraction because I’m in the here and now with the painting I’ve currently got going. It’s a good feeling to have things straightened out and on course.