Why do You Have your Best Ideas in the Shower? Let Your Mind Wander
Why Do You Have your Best Ideas In the Shower? What is the importance of letting your mind wander for creativity?
Is this really a thing? Having our best ideas in the shower? Is there an explanation about why do you have your best ideas in the shower?
Yes, there is. And I want to talk about that because it leads me to a much bigger problem.
But, first, answer me:
Have you ever been driving, thinking about nothing, then, BAM, it happens: you know why your villain did what he did (and, thank God, it isn’t cliché childhood trauma or simply because he’s a psychopath!).
Then later that day, there you were, in your shower, and then, OMG, you found out why your character’s boyfriend dumped her. And it was not to stay with the hot secretary! Wait, you actually found out that plot hole that was driving you crazy!
Why do we have our best ideas when we are not thinking about anything?
The answer is simple: because your mind was wandering off.
That’s the answer why showers and driving alone are so good for the imagination.
When you are not thinking about anything is the time your mind is free to be creative.
And here comes to the most serious thing I wanted to talk about.
I read on Twitter (Twitter, my holy grail of knowledge and references): Most of your writing is done away from the keyboard.
And this is so true.
You have to give your mind space.
You have to let it wander and have fun.
Somebody said creativity is intelligence having fun (I Google it and it looks like it was Einstein, but I never trust this Internet quotes. Anyway, it’s true).
This leads me to another thing:
Let go of this obsession with word counting
“I will write 1000 words today. If I can’t, I’ll beat myself up about it until I’m so depressed I want to quit writing!”.
Writing is a creative process.
You can have it all outlined.
You can have a great plan.
And, then, you get there. Nothing. You stare at the blank page.
Nothing or some dry words come out.
You are not having fun, you aren’t enjoying the process. But, even so, you stay there, trying, until you beat yourself up enough that you’ll leave without having written what you wanted, feeling anxious, an underachiever, and bad. Or you go, write the words, dislike it, start dreading when you’ll have to do the same in the next day.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a plan. You should.
But sometimes, things won’t go the way you plan. And that’s okay.
You simply can’t force creativity.
It’s great to have discipline, but sometimes you need showers.
What I mean by that is: you need to let your mind wander. You need the story to grow in your head. You need to catch yourself randomly thinking about that, making up conversations between the characters, thinking about the worldbuilding.
This is just as important as planning.
This is an essential part of the inspiration and giving depth to your story.
You need to get to know your story before you can actually write it.
And the best way to do it is to step away from your laptop, go grab a cup of coffee, go watch television.
She said what? Watch… TV?!
My procrastination holy grail! Never! I can’t go near that or I’ll burn!
I’m not telling you to procrastinate or not to have a plan. You know me. I’m obsessed with plans.
What I’m telling you is that not writing is as important as writing for your story.
This goes for TV or even scrolling through social media. You need a break from producing and you need to let your mind go freely, without thinking about anything specifically. This is when creativity flows.
Why you should get some time away from your story always?
1. You will be able to test if that’s what you really want to write. If you keep thinking about your story when you’re driving, when you’re on the shower, when you’re doing groceries, then it’s the right story. If you don’t even want to think about that, maybe you won’t be able to finish it even if you have a daily writing plan.
2. You HAVE to give your story time to grow. It grows by its own and it’s not on the paper. It is in your head, in your life. You have to look at the daily moment and be able to say what your main character would do if it were you.
3. You have to play around with your story. You have to create intimacy with it.
That’s really a big difference from a dry story that you have no idea what you’re talking about and a really great story that you love to write.
Is like getting to know a new place.
At first, everything is strange and you don’t know what to do.
It takes time to make that place truly yours. For you to know it as well as the back of your hand.
Creativity technique: How to get Intimacy with your story
Today, you won’t write your word plan. Today, you will step away from your story and play with it.
1- At the shower, let your mind wander freely to your story world. Start imagining things there. Let it flow. Don’t control it.
2- At random points of your day, start to imagine that you are your main character or villain. What would they do? How would they behave? What would they say? It’s also a very fun exercise to do.
3- Ask these random questions to yourself: would my world allow people to have pets? Or would pets eat the people there? Would my woman like to carry purses around or is this a man thing?
Everything that you notice around you, try to bring to your world and imagine how it would be there.
4- At the end of each day, try to think about things that you saw in the day and imagine what you could take to your story. It can be an old lady you saw on the street that looked worried about being late or a great mirror building that you could mimic.
Writers are observers, remember that!
- Why my best ideas come in the shower? Because you must let your mind wander off, you must let it travel, be creative.
- The best writing is done away from the keyboard. You must give yourself time to be creative. You can’t force creativity.
- Don’t be paranoid about the word counting. It doesn’t matter that much.
- Become an observer of the world. Play with your characters, your story, everything.