Think about the last time you wrote a short story or essay. You took a seat at your desk, you dimmed the lights, maybe you Spotified some Bach in the background, and then BAM! -- all of your brilliant ideas came rushing before your eyes in an ecstatic moment of unadulterated creativity. No? Not you? Not any of us.

In the video below, Brian Castner speaks honestly about the challenges of writing "The Long Walk," his upcoming memoir of a tour of duty in Iraq, in which he  chronicles the struggle to make sense of life back home in the United States.

We are all stories in the making. Or in Castner's case, the running: "...I'm three miles out, I have to run back...into the house, pull out a sheet of paper, scribble it down, get all those ideas out." Justin Cronin, author of "The Passage," also harnesses creativity in his jogging routine:  "For many years, running has been part of my writing ritual. I do my best creative thinking while running, which I have come to understand as a form of self-hypnosis."

The ideas that inspire perfect plot twists and insights rarely arrive on demand; the light-bulb moment occurs on a crowded airplane, when we're mindlessly occupied in the shower, or lingering over a cup of coffee at brunch. The trick is to be ready when it strikes you. In other words: carpe articulum -- seize the moment.