I never do my best writing at my desk. I don’t even do it at the computer.
I write best when I’m running.
I get my best ideas while running. (Running outside, at least. When I’m running on the treadmill I can’t think anything other than God, I hate this. Can I stop yet? Please? This is torture.) It’s while I’m doing laps around the reservoir or traversing the park loop that all of the things I can’t seem to figure out about my characters or the plot or the setting get solved. Whatever the knotty issue is, it perfectly untangles while I’m running. I’ve always loved how running can be meditative and that it has a unique ability to help you organize your thoughts. It has always helped me get creative, but it wasn’t until I started writing that I realized what an incredible tool running is for a writer.
My only problem is that by the time I get back home and take a shower, I have often forgotten certain truths uncovered while on the path.
Solving that is tricky. Obviously, I don’t run while holding a laptop or a notepad. I suppose I could get a voice recorder and tape any important thoughts that come to me while running, but really–that’s kind of insane. (Sorry if anyone does actually narrate to a Dictaphone while jogging–no offense.) I think it would make running less productive, too. I highly suspect that part of the reason why running helps me think so well is that while I’m doing it, I can’t be checking my phone, responding to an email, glancing at the TV, hearing my neighbors play Grand Theft Auto, getting interrupted by the oven timer, etc. While running your body is consumed (i.e. distracted) by the activity, so as long as you don’t run into a tree (which I’ve done) or trip and fall (also have done) or get crapped on by a bird (yup) or realize that you have to pee really badly and there are no bathrooms for 3 miles (uh huh) or pull a tendon in your foot (also yup), your mind is free to wander and ponder.
So I try to jot down any epiphanies when I come in the door, and if something still gets forgotten, I know that I can always go for a run the next day. Feet permitting.