Late night ideas are not always the best. Well, let me rephrase that. Late night words are not always the best. (Or late day words if you are someone who typically sleeps during the sun shine hours. I do both. It depends on the week. For me, “Night” is the period of time where sleep happens. It has nothing to do with if the stars are out or not….and really they are always there anyway. We just can’t see them with the sun up.)
It is late at night, (or early in the morning) right now and I just wrote a poem. The idea behind the poem was pretty good but the poem itself is pretty awful. I wrote it down and saved it anyway. Maybe someday I can do something with it or it may develop into something else. Words are funny shifty things like that. You think they are one thing and two weeks later you realize they are something else.
Late night or sleep deprived words are some of the most tricky. You scribble them down bleary eyed thinking you have handfuls of gold and the next morning you read over them to find old leaves and twigs. That doesn’t mean you toss out the leaves because they are not the riches you thought they were. You tuck them away somewhere.
Everyone needs a folder that acts as sort of a compost heap. A place to put those little bits of ideas that have no where else to go. It serves at least two specific purposes.
One is on those days when the words are not flowing you can flip through it and see if anything in there can act as fertilizer. I have several folders like this because I seem to constantly fill them up. If you are an organized person and can handle tossing things you’ve written away, then it might be a good idea to go through and tidy up your compost folder every now and again. I am not good at it.
The second purpose a folder like this can serve is to show you how far you’ve come. Writing changes as we grow and experience new things. Sometimes it is interesting to go back and see how much life has changed us as writers.
I have a red notebook I filled with pages and pages of pencil scribbled words in middle school. I had read Tolkien and Douglas Adams and in my young wisdom decided that they were both the absolute creative deities of fiction. It was my great desire to follow in their footsteps so I created worlds with frog riding fairies, tragic elven princesses, intelligent mice, and a malevolent “dark one” out to destroy the universe.
My poor parents had to listen to me excitedly read my work to them every night for a week. They both encouraged me, though I now know their eyes had to be glazed over. It didn’t help matters that the protagonist were all named after my friends and the villain was the spot on description of my gym teacher.
The story was weak and cliche. I will probably never use any of it for anything else. (Except the frog riding fairies. I kind of liked them.) However, it is good to go back as see how much my writing has changed from that of the thirteen year old me.
I have done a lot of rambling, but the point I am trying to hit is that no words are wasted. Even if they come to you dressed in silks in the middle of the night and you awake to find them clad in burlap. Keep your words. Be proud that you wrote them. In the future they will be different.