On Creating Ideas in the Shower

Being creative for me is a constant struggle against my own brain.  Ever since I read Dorothea Brand’s book “Becoming a Writer” I’ve struggled with “mastering my demons,” as she put it.  There is a section in there, early in the book, where she tells you that if you can’t make time to write every day at the same time, you’ll never be a writer.

She lied to me

I literally have not read passed that section because she says not to bother.  Now, 30 years later, I realize that I can write every day, but I can’t rely on it being the exact same time every day, especially on the road.  So her advice, while old and harsh (probably like her back then) was both good and bad.  Her idea was you had to train your subconscious to respond when you wanted it to, and it was through this daily schedule that this would happen.  I never got past day two or three, and until this last year was never able to make it stick.

No goalpost to aim at

So what changed?  I’m not 100% sure, but I know that I’ve found several online sources like Jeff Goins and Todd Brison who focus on training writers, on helping us build an audience.  I never had an end goal in mind back then and thus, I never had a reason to push myself.

Even six months ago, I would miss a day here and there, especially on the weekend once in a while – my inner demons winning again.  But after I tried to stick to Jeff Goins’ 30-day post-a-day challenge, I struggled.  It wasn’t until I was forced to come up with new posts and ideas daily, and ran out of my scant material, that I struggled to keep finding ideas.  That was a critical point in my development as a writer.

It always happens in the shower

But even now, my subconscious seems to like to play tricks on me.  I had an idea yesterday that I thought was great – and it came to me in the shower, at the very beginning of the shower.  I had already written, and already met my word count for the day, and this idea, which I wanted to capture and expand on, jumped into my head.  So I showered with purpose.  And I kept saying the idea over and over in my head, even playing with it, rolling it around forcing it to take shape, because I’ve been there before, a great idea in the shower, gone by the time I towel off.  But this time, I was able to keep the demons busy until I dried off and got over to my computer to jot down the idea.

It’s times like these that I hope the hotels don’t have hidden cameras.  I’m sure I looked silly, dripping wet, naked and fat, drooped over my Mac typing furiously, trying to capture thoughts before my brain got bored and moved on.

I was able to jot down 367 words about the idea before I had to finish getting ready and avoid being late.  So I believe that this was a result of the pressure I’ve been putting on my creative side, and it reacting with, “Ha, here’s a winner, see if you can remember it tomorrow.” But my creative side doesn’t realize that I’ve learned his tricks, and I’m ready to trap those ideas.

Catching the ideas

I’ve toyed with the idea of a shower voice recorder/transcription machine, and talked about that in my daily notes – that would solve the issue much better.  You know who the market is for a waterproof voice recorder?  Coroners.  Yeah, so I got that going for me.  But one thing that has come out of this, is I realize I should shower every day.  Working out of the house every day has its downsides.  You get up early, end up starting work earlier than most because you have no commute, and the next thing you know, it’s 4 pm and you haven’t had a shower.  Maybe that’s all my subconscious is trying to tell me.  I call the whole process my “shower epiphany”.

And I’m not crazy!  I read an article today in Scientific American that backs up what’s happening to me.  With science!  It’s a very long read, but the gist is that my brain takes a nap when I shower, and that downtime causes my subconscious to get stimulated.  I had a hunch there was more to it than just coincidence.

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Photo by Jay Cee on Unsplash


2 thoughts on “On Creating Ideas in the Shower

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