Writing While Wet

My best ideas come in the shower.  I will be in the middle of scrubbing suds into my hair, with bubbles flying and sodium laureth sulfate dangerously close to my eyes, when the perfect topic will appear, and then the words will start to flow.  I will know exactly how to begin, what should come next, and even an outline will begin to form in my mind.  My ideas begin developing quickly, and as I realize the writing potential that I have created with a few minutes alone, I frantically finish washing and wish that pens and paper were compatible with water.

From Wikimedia Commons
From Wikimedia Commons

This happens inevitably, and although the conditions are not conducive to writing, there is an element of the shower that promotes invention.  It also happens in the car, while I am driving children to and from school, ballet, and piano lessons, but only if the radio is off and my toddler is asleep.  This condition is quiet, and it allows me, as a writer and scholar, to meditate, to think, to invent, and to create.

This quiet is not perfectly still. There is usually white noise or a scenic view, but it’s silent enough to allow my mind to wander and to think.  I jokingly share my shower anecdote with my freshman composition students occasionally.  It comes out as a counter to their claims that writing at 3 a.m. on the day the essay is due is their best place and time to write.  They claim that their writing “flows” when they are under pressure, when a deadline is looming, and when their bodies are loaded with caffeine.  They defend procrastination vehemently, not realizing that writing is a process and that it best occurs over time, with thought, craft, care, revision, and thinking.

We try to engender such thinking in the classroom.  We read essays to lead up to each major writing assignment and then put pen to paper silently in class to respond to those essays.  We talk about the issues, looking for thesis statements, topic sentences, connections, and transitions.  We spend weeks doing this thinking, and then, it is time for invention.  I would love to encourage my students to go home and take showers while thinking about their essay topics.  However, even if assigned, this would not happen.  They do not see writing and thinking as enjoyable, but instead as a chore.  Their minds would wander and they would procrastinate.  So, we create that quiet in the classroom, where it is supervised and artificial, but it is there.

We spend a day or two drafting and brainstorming. I provide the questions and they write.  I suggest clustering their ideas, and they write.  I explain Peter Elbow’s concept of free writing, and they write.  They write silently, alone, in a quiet classroom, with only the sound of the building’s heating and air-conditioning system and the tick of the clock creating ambient noise.  Hopefully, their ideas are flowing and the environment, although quiet and sterile, is promoting that.  Perhaps the classroom does not promote ideas as inspiring or as urgent as my shower ideas, but it is a start toward creating a quiet place in which to meditate.  The location does not matter as much as the condition of that location.

My shower is not the only place that I find inspiration for my writing.  I have also used the quiet of my undergraduate university library and an old spiral bound notebook to let my ideas flow.  I sit on my bed at night after the children are asleep and jot down my many thoughts.  I carry a small notebook with me and write whenever a moment of inspiration hits me.  That’s usually when I’m walking through the tree-lined sidewalks of my current campus.  I use technology, my iPad, my computer, and my laptop, to write as I am struck.  I keep sticky notes and a pen in my car for inventive occasions as well.  And when I am reading, I write in the margins and on the end papers.  The mode of writing does not matter, but the conditions.  The conditions can strike at anytime, for quiet and meditation can happen at different points throughout the day.

But perhaps technology contributes to a lack of quiet, meditative conditions.  We are constantly connected through our phones, our iPads, our televisions, and our computers.  Some even sleep (or shower) with these devices.  There can be no quiet with such connectivity.  There is no chance to think, to relax, or to meditate.  Staring at one’s laptop screen in the classroom, despite the instructor’s best efforts to create a thinking atmosphere, may be just as intimidating or unsettling.  That blank screen may induce anxiety and the suddenly louder tick of the clock may magnify that feeling.  Are pen and paper better?  Are there more possibilities for healthy mistakes and free flow of thought on a notepad?  Is there something less formal and less demanding of perfection than a screen, which from the get-go displays an ideal form of typography and the serious feel of words in print?

Technology isn’t our only boon to writing and creating a quiet place in which to do so.  The busyness of our lives also encroaches on thinking time.  If we are never alone during the day, if we are never allowed a moment of just sitting, and if we can never find the right conditions for pondering, when will any thinking happen?  This is an issue often explored, from well-written essays in The New Yorker to complaints of friends and children being burned out from overachievement.  This busyness may also take away from the quiet moments of inspiration a writer can and should receive.

Public domain image from National Geographic
Public domain image from National Geographic

My shower is a haven of writing for me, despite its limits, because it is the one consistent place I am away from the technology and the busyness of my own life.  Although, I still don’t have a solution to writing while wet!


234 thoughts on “Writing While Wet

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  1. Great topic!
    I remember those days in your ENG 1010 drafting and brainstorming. Personally I did not mind it at all and found it very helpful!

    I have to agree that most of my best writing concepts come when I am surrounded by a moment of silence, where I can actually hear my thoughts echoing back to myself. While in the shower, laying in bed and in the midst of personal encounters with others-this is when inspiration loves to arrive in town to visit me! I also learned that inspiration visits more times than not when I least expect it or go less out of my way to invite it. I really love and found it very insightful about what you said of how the conditions of quietness and meditation can occur at many different points through out the day and that the location of the condition does not matter as much as the condition of the location.This is true! Like you I learned the value in always have a pen and paper around so I don’t miss out on wonderful ideas. I discovered that if I don’t write down these ideas when they pop in my head I will easily forget them. In fact, there are many desperate instances where I had to grab a piece of napkin, a receipt out of my purse or whatever I can find just to have something to write my ideas on in fear of losing them forever, ha! I am wise now and I have a pen and paper at my aid where ever I go. I have one inside my night stand ready for those oh so many nights where I find myself laying in bed with my eyes closed shut and on the brink off falling asleep or already half asleep and then BAM inspiration strikes at its peak. Also, like you I also use my cellular device to record inspiration on the go. I log all my ideas and experiences on a note pad app. As with the shower episodes I am with you on that. If I ever discover a solution I will be sure to share it with you. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Chanelle! It sounds like we have a lot in common. I’m constantly writing on scraps of paper and I do forget so easily if I don’t write something down. I’ve learned the hard way too many times that I can’t just push a thought aside and hope it’ll come back to me when I’m ready for it. Great idea to use your phone to take notes. If I knew how to use my phone that well, I would do it. Maybe I should learn!

    2. I found this topic very interesting and it got my thinking juices flowing. Often the time I feel uninspired or blocked is the time I’m surrounded by technology. I have an easier time writing with pen and paper rather than on my computer or iPad. Your writing style is beautiful!

      1. Thank you! How kind. I find my iPad to be where I write most of my little notes these days, since I am often away from home and I want to email myself. But it is the WORST because I use the on-screen keypad and it is always hard to type quickly and correctly!

    3. I agree about the shower and the car and think it has to do with clearing our brain. On car rides from MA to NJ and back to visit my father, I come up with ideas and start writing in my head. Then when I arrive at my destination, I quickly get to my computer and write down the rehearsed words. It happens after morning walks and after yoga practice, too. When we clear our head of mind clutter, we allow more room for creativity. I feel refreshed physically and mentally.

  2. I have great writing moments when I’m doing housework, especially washing dishes. And I try to rush to the computer to get it all down but it’s never the same. Sigh. Someone suggested using a dictation app to capture those thoughts but I’d feel as though I were talking to myself. Also, I’d be overheard by my husband who would no doubt chime in with his two cents.

      1. Yes, housework does it for me too especially the ironing and washing up. Sometimes I find myself staring at a patterned carpet or the clouds and images suddenly appear of different characters for a book. Love it!

        1. I could stand to do more housework! Maybe then I would find inspiration there, but right now I avoid it at all costs! Well, not really, but you know what I mean. It isn’t fun.

          1. Ha ha! Don’t get me wrong – I really dislike housework – but on a positive at least there’s some inspiration to be found there. lol!

            1. Way to be optimistic! I just looked at my house and realized that it really really needs some love today, but I’d rather write. (And I HAVE to.) I have so many papers due in the next few weeks!

  3. I definitely think that pen and paper are better when ideas are blooming, the scratching sound of the pen or pencil on the paper is inspirational for me, really gives me the feeling of a writer. When I’m just typing I could be doing anything…productive or not. When I’m writing on paper and someone sees me, they know I’m doing something productive, something worth writing down. I just like doing the first pieces of work, brainstorming etc. on paper. Sometimes I even colour code things like my favourite ideas!

    1. Color coding is a great way to do it! Your description of the sound of pencil scratching paper appeals to me too, and the productivity is spot on! What a great comment.

  4. I, too, find myself thinking my best thoughts while in places that I cannot write (shower, car, etc). I used to make my oldest take dictation, but for the times I didn’t have her with me, I used a mini-tape recorder (I’m dating myself). Now I use the voice recorder on my phone and transcribe later. It’s not ideal; however, I am able to capture some of my ideas, and I’ve recorded myself for so long, my family is used to me talking to myself. 🙂 Great post!

    1. Thanks! What a great idea to record yourself. I have a little digital recorder I could use! I may also start employing my oldest daughter. I like that method as well.

  5. I get almost all of my ideas in the bath. I think it must be something to do with my body being relaxed and therefore my brain has permission to daydream. Let me know if anybody invents waterproof paper!

  6. haha! love it 🙂 Inspiration usually strikes me just before I go off to sleep and I always think ‘right, i’ll remember that in the morning’ but never do. Dictaphones help but that probably isn’t a great shower solution! I once bought some waterproof crayons that you can use to write on tiles and then they wipe right off again. Worth a try maybe? Love your blog 🙂 x

    1. Thank you! I have that problem before sleeping as well. Or sometimes in the middle of the night. A few weeks ago I had outlined a whole paper while tossing and turning and in the morning it was gone!

  7. I love that black and white photo, so funny!

    You are so right, inspiration comes at the oddest of times 🙂 They make waterproof post-its (I think they are called Aqua-notes) for taking notes in the shower. I’ve never tried them, but you could give them a go and see if they work!

      1. You’re right! I guess that does mean that this is a thing, hahahaha! I hadn’t thought of that but that made me laugh for some reason 🙂

  8. Hello Emily,
    As I read your Blog, my initial thought was….. “Why not put a Tape Recorder in your bathroom, especially since most of your writing ideas surface when ‘you’re wet’ . 🙂
    Of course this most certainly can apply to when you’re driving as well. But I thought it’s the perfect antidote to what could be a major lost of really good material!
    Happy writing and… Ideas.

    1. That’s an excellent idea! I actually called my husband in the other day and told him to write down some ideas for me. He was happy to oblige but smirked at me the whole time.

  9. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only person who finds the shower such a productive aid to composition. I’ve often wondered, though, whether I’m fooling myself into believing that my thoughts are more worked out than they really are, and that the reason I ‘write’ better in the shower is that the pen, paper, or computer aren’t there compelling me to bring those half-formed thoughts to completion. For that reason, I think dictation wouldn’t work for me. As soon as I have to commit myself to one thing rather than another, nothing flows. I’m sure that says more about me than I’d like it to, but so it goes.

    Anyway, I enjoy your blog, which I’ve stumbled on by some chain of accidents I can’t even remember, so thanks!

    1. I am glad you found me! I, too, find that the “flow” of words becomes hampered when in introduce anything other than my thoughts. I guess that is why revision is so important. It gives me a chance to work through those scattered thoughts on paper and hopefully make them better. Thanks for the comment!

  10. i so agree…there is something about showering…the writing, like water, just flows…effortlessly..i have written so many things while in there…the only problem is once am out of the shower, the writing is gone too and that is what depresses me.
    Then many a times, ive woken up from my sleep and scribbled something or even punched it on my phone and these are some of my favourite words.

    beautiful post…thanks for sharing.congratulations

  11. I know how you feel. I’ve had some great ideas for novels, short stories, and blog posts while in the shower. I think the last idea I had in the shower was for a trilogy of novels based on some old Dutch fairy tales.

      1. That depends on your point of view. I write plenty of horror, often with sci-fi, fantasy, and/or horror elements. it’s really all up to you whether you think one idea is more interesting than another.
        At the very least, I like to think my ideas are very interesting.

  12. I find that when I am laying in bed and just about to fall asleep an idea takes me. Usually, as is my way, I am too lazy to push away the sleep and write the idea down. I have taken to keeping a pen and pad on my bedside table for the times I am not too lazy however and it works great!
    I think it has to do with the mind relaxing enough to let the ideas flow without interruption, you don’t have to worry about what this person or that person is doing or the bill that is due. You are free.

  13. Inevitably just after my hair is fully lathered and my eyes closed tightly I find myself in need of paper and pencil, chanting the thread of a thought least it run away to be entirely forgotten. Lovely post.

  14. Inspirational! As I’m scrolling the comments I am so encouraged to know that I’m not crazy! Although, after reading that, there is one question I am dying to ask you! Is that top picture your actual shower!? Its gorgeous!

  15. I certainly relate to the shower when ideas flow, first sentences appear and conversations take place between characters. Sometimes I have to stop myself and concentrate so I don’t forget that perfect sentence. Driving too, often sees me pulling over to scribble something down.

  16. I suppose we all have our own favourite sources where our creative juices flow best. My biggest enemy however is remembering them. At the time they seem like such good ideas how could anyone forget them. Then it happens. I get sidetracked and forget about whatever the hell I was thinking about. Must find a better system for remembering those great ideas I have.

  17. I really enjoyed your post, it is very useful and thought-provoking! I agree with you that it is always best to step back, switch off, and listen to your thoughts — this is when writing inspiration comes to me too!

  18. I saw this and giggled out-loud …. Delta actually makes a waterproof pad and pencil which can cling to your shower walls and needless to say … I have one. 🙂 (I actually even wrote a short blog on it. )This is a fabulous piece that reminds me of the innocence and intricate journey of writing. Thank you!

  19. I can sooo relate! Shower, driving, walking. They say that rhythmic activities like painting a wall, walking, digging in the garden can unhitch your brain and let the subconscious free. Walking for sure.
    I am getting ready to start a second career of teaching Freshman Comp once I finish up my masters in writing, so I was interested in your description of the classroom. Thanks for painting the picture for me.
    Right now, I’m teaching a class on spiritual practices, and the main challenge is to get people to unplug! Silence, solitude, and idleness are so foreign to our culture. You might enjoy a blog post I did a while back on busyness – I took off from a New York Times essay, likely the one you reference:
    Anyway, I’m rambling – you hit on so many of the things that get me going! Congrats on the FP! Have fun with your teaching – I’m excited to get started!

    1. I bet you’ll love the classroom! I sure do. It took me several semesters to get to where I felt completely confident, but I have learned so much and really found that each semester gets better from what I learn and try to apply. Good luck!

  20. I’d love to do this if I wasn’t so busy goofing off with my girlfriend in the shower… and if I had some kind of nifty waterproof case to stick on the shower wall to keep a writing utensil and a paper pad in. I would keep it just out of reach of the water and only use it when I had an idea to write down. Every time I fill a sheet, I’d simply tear it out and toss out out of the shower onto the floor or onto the toilet seat. For some reason I couldn’t find the Delta item…

  21. Your (very nice *read in accent*) post reminded me of this rather brilliant quote: “Emptiness, which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities” – Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki

    Yay for silence. (And engaged teachers).

  22. Reblogged this on thewordpressghost and commented:

    Emily wrote a nice piece about how writers work constantly with new ideas.

    Her preferred method of preserving notes? Pen and paper.

    Well, as you read her blog, you will notice that pen and paper are not great in her favorite inspirational zone: the shower.

    Read her blog and enjoy.

    Then come back to my blog to learn the easy and quick fix ….


  23. Have you ever considered purchasing underwater writing materials? Scuba divers have them to write down data when on deep dives…i suggest you invest so as to not let any innovation slip out….my quiet times come with inspiration as well. I’m glad I read this blog. It reminded me how much I have been neglecting my own thoughts.

    Thank you~~~;-)

  24. This piece is very valid. It’s funny how you mention the ways ideas come to you. The shower is one of my place of ideas too. For some reason the wee hours of the morning under a hot shower just produces valuable storylines and character ideas. Another is when I am falling asleep. Something will strike me and I’ll scramble for my phone hoping to jot it all down. Sometimes I dream of something and right when I awake, I scramble for my phone again. It is wildly interesting how the subconscious is so much more creative than the conscious. The latter’s job then is to translate the creativity produced by the unconscious into a workable piece, carefully thought out and well-developed. After all, what is a wild idea when it is not presentable to a reader. This was an awesome piece to read! I would love the privilege of learning under your tutelage.

    1. Thank you! It sounds like you have plenty of your own ideas and ways to keep them. I like the phone idea, but not in the shower! I agree that our subconscious is much more creative and aware of how to make sense of our thoughts than our conscious. I just wish I could tap into it at more convenient times! Thanks for the comment.

  25. I love your writing style. And this post was awesome! I loved the way you mentioned finding the right ambience/situation in your university library or on the tree-lined sidewalks…the mere images of those places in my head give me thoughts to jot down. Even I’m someone who tries to keep a notebook or atleast a scrap of paper with me, to write down whenever something comes to mind. I could identify with and relate to your thoughts so well. 🙂 Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  26. Beautiful post- thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I like the balance you strike between inspiration (essentially, the thoughts and creativity that come to you while you’re in the shower, that may pop into your head in just those few brief moments), and the longer process of sitting with those thoughts, letting them mull over in your head, mature, unravel themselves and come to a greater sense of order.

    I doubt everyone’s the same, but I find my own process similar, in that I will often come up with the ‘inspiration’- perhaps 80% of what I actually want to write at that high [strategic] level- in a similar place. Rarely the shower. But driving. Or in a boring work meeting (!). Almost invariably filling at least three characteristics: (1) My mind is free to wander; (2) I am away from the distraction of technology (critical!- I totally agree with your statement) and (3)- perversely- where I am usually unable to write (and often even take notes)- also similar to the shower. I am not sure what it is about point 3 that seems to dominate my moments of inspiration- perhaps it is simply that, freed of the possibility of writing, my mind feels relieved of any duty to do-so, and therefore meanders more openly.

    At any rate, I loved your post- I always enjoy exploring the process of writing- so thanks for giving food for thought 🙂

    1. I love your comment! It really sums up the invention process nicely. I think you make a great point about this inspiration coming BECAUSE we can’t write it down. Sometimes the act of writing is intimidating or prevents us from tapping into those uninhibited thoughts. Great observation!

  27. First of all, congrats on getting FP’d!! Yeah, I get lots of ideas at less than opportune times. I use the notepad on my iPhone like nobody’s biz. But there are still so many times I’m simply empty-handed or unable and I think I’ve lost (possibly forever) some good ones!

    1. Thanks! I’ve lost some good ones, too. Part of that solution was to keep paper and pens in my car, but I am pretty sure I’ve increased my odds of getting into an accident!

  28. Nice topic it reminded me how my mus kicks when I’m cooking and the fridge was my note book I always get scolded becuase of that. I injoyed your piece thanks for sharing
    Best wishes.

      1. I don’t know was it the onion effect or what but I got my best ideas in the kitchen I always have a pencil in reach . I believe every idea has its own way of emerging thats why i hate ideas with stubborn character . Thanks for replaying

  29. I think being alone is essential to the flow of ideas, perhaps that’s what the shower does to you. I don’t mean that by isolating oneself, but the time away from people one knows liberates one from the conscious (or not) effort of social interactions. I can’t write at home, where distractions and technology are abound. I always have ideas on the bus back home, but I would fail to pen them down back home. Great post!

  30. So true! I lay awake the other night until 2 a.m. because a brainstorm hit–I think a combo of the caffeine too late in the evening and a late-night meditation.

  31. Ideas happen to me frequently in the shower. I think it is the one place in my life not overwhelmed by technological noise, traffic, demands and distractions of daily life.

    1. Well said Trinity! I’ve never thought of it that way. I guess that is the one time I don’t have everyone needing something from me. 🙂

  32. haha my biggest mistake is ALWAYS thinking: ‘Oh I’ll remember that when i get ou’ … I NEVER do! I keep a pen and paper by the bed, but in the daze of lethargy, often can’t even manage to lift my weary hand to pick the pen up 🙂 GREAT post, thank you 🙂

  33. A friend of mine has one of those waterproof notebooks in his shower. Although truthfully I’ve always kind of assumed he uses it mostly as a way of impressing the ladies with how inspired and artistic he is (he works the soulful poet angle pretty well in that department).

  34. Technology definatly gets in the way, I do my writing at the PC and lets be honest thats THE most distracting thing ever, with the internet the world is at my fingertips!

  35. I LOVE it!! My husband makes fun of me because I am always jumping out of the shower and sprinting to my “idea notebook”. He rolls his eyes at me and gives a resigned sigh when I take a shower right before date night because I will very likely spend the whole night rambling about my latest ideas. 🙂
    I love that you wrote about this!

  36. Really love the post! I’ve often thought about how we are rarely still & quiet (and when we are, we’re reaching for our smart phones to occupy the space), which leaves little time for “thinking time” and it’s in those ‘stolen’ moments of quiet that things tend to crop up! Showers are quite possibly my favorite 🙂 it’s where I go to work out things going on in my life. For me, its bedtime when random thoughts suddenly comes to mind, I’m constantly reaching over to my iphone to drop Notes in.

    1. We really do try to always fill the “silence.” I have a hard time just being. It is something I want to be good at and comfortable with someday, without being wet or asleep!

  37. The thing I found at school was that there was always a specific way to write and if it didn’t contain this or that, it wasn’t good enough. I didn’t like my English classes at all as I found it was limiting my creativity. I have been out of school for a few years now and I love that I can write about what I want, when I want and how I want 🙂

    1. I’ve never taught a creative writing course, so I don’t know what to tell you. The English classes I teach are composition (learning to write academically) and technical writing, which is also very uncreative. I am glad you have found a way to tap into your creativity outside of school. It is probably the best way!

  38. I love this!! I tend to be inspired at bed time and really should have a pen and paper at my bedside. I read re-read and maybe read my posts to another person sometimes to make sure I am clear and that my point is getting across. I tend to write from a place of passion instead of logic I am working on writing with more forethought but for a person who leads with her heart it is a task that may take some time, I am looking forward to reading more of your work.

  39. Just last night I spent my hour and a half bus ride home feeling as if I was ramming my head against a wall as I wrote a terrible draft. Then, I came home, took a shower, and it was as if the clouds parted and the solution was right there. The solution will take a lot of work, reorganization, and re-writing, but it’ll build the foundation for a much better ending.
    Thanks for reminding us the wonders of doing other things while writing.

  40. I often get my inspiration while I’m brushing my teeth in the morning. After sitting at the blank computer screen for half and hour, of course! The muse is a merry prankster and only likes to come out and play when we’re too busy to pay it any mind. When inspiration hits while I’m in the car I use my recorder on my phone and get it out of my head. Great post!

  41. See, you can write in quiet. I mean, I guess I can too, but I have much more clarity when there is noise around. I write well in crowds. But that’s getting off the point. I loved your blog entry for several reasons. First, I am a teacher too, so it was inspirational to see how you approach writing in the classroom. Secondly, I know what you mean about getting inspired to write in the shower. It makes so much sense, but isn’t there a time when you wish you weren’t in the shower because ideas shift so much from moment to moment? Do you carry around a book with you into the bathroom so you can write down when the inspiration hits, sometimes getting it wet in your mad dash from the shower to the book? 🙂 Nice nice entry. Cheers, mate.

    1. That is a good distinction. Sometimes noise is what promotes invention. I do carry a notebook around, but not into the bathroom. Perhaps I should start. Thanks for reading, and I am glad you found something of value in my post.

  42. This is a wonderful post. I find myself writing everywhere- to the point that it’s become a running joke around my house. My son will ask where he can get a sheet of paper to draw on and my husband will respond with, ‘Well, there’s paper everywhere. It’s finding a blank piece that’s tricky.’ I haven’t taken much to jotting ideas down on anything more tech savvy just yet. The actual work? Sure, but the ideas are different. They flow better on paper and at the most inconvenient times.

  43. A very subtle and well written piece I must say. And the best part about your writing is the simple way in which you adhere to the validity of your topic. I couldn’t agree more about deriving inspiration in quite and serene places like the shower or the solitude of one’s study. Hope you find the most competent solution to your ‘writing while wet’ problem soon enough ! 😛

  44. Thanks for your post. I think it is amazing how our mind works to construct things. It seems some of my best lessons have been rewritten while on my way to school. I write on the bus. Since we moved to Germany, we have no car. That 8 minute commute to school is a place of perfect solitude to write, plan and revise.

    It is harder for my students. They are distracted by so much, even in a quiet classroom. But there is no better sound than 22 pencils or pens clackity clacking on the paper in a frantic rhythm. That is the sound of thinking.

    1. That IS – a beautiful – sound of thinking! Well put. And I like the bus idea. There was a time in my life when I rode the bus to and from the city for work each day. Those were good times!

  45. I very much agree with you! like you I have come to the realisation that my best thoughts are made in the shower!
    however seeing as I have the memory of a goldfish, putting to pen my ‘great thinking’, For some reason don’t seem to always work well…
    Me thinks the shower is a magical place, Where minds wonder to distance unknown!

  46. The shower? Well, ‘who’da thunk it?’, as the fella said… I find that many of my best ideas come to me when I’m on the train. There’s a four-hour train journey I take regularly and it’s often during those four hours that my creative juices flow best.

    I’m going to pay more attention to my shower thoughts in future!

    Great post.

  47. This is a great post! I agree, too often technology and other distractions keep us from entering into the quiet contemplation that will lead to creative inspiration. Although the noise can inspire us, it more often distracts us. Thanks for your insights.

  48. Really good post. I was reading through the comments and a lot of people were conflicted about the role of technology in writing. Well, I like to write. I LOVE TO WRITE! For me, it’s less fiction, more opinion and musings. When I’m at a loss of inspiration, I use the internet to my advantage.
    Have you heard of Thought Catalog? Sometimes I can get inspiration just from reading the titles of their posts.
    I also have an active, girly, angsty Tumblr that is very thought provoking and that is often the inspiration for posts of mine. Just a thought to contribute. I like your writing style. It reminds me of mine 🙂 – Catherine, at Never Stationary


  49. Yes, I have experienced this myself. How many frustrating rushes out of the shower to find a pen and paper. How many stops along a highway to record or write a thought, an inspiration, a moment of creativity to capture… totally get it! Loved the post. 🙂

  50. Oh My Goodness!! Someone who can relate!!! I too always get great ideas while in the shower or driving. The silly thing is I always tell myself that I’ll remember it all and write it down as soon as I get out of the shower but I ALWAYS forget! What do you do otherwise, paper is not conducive to water. I must find a solution! Thank you so much for sharing this. Great post 🙂

  51. What a wonderful post! You are correct that writing occurs over time through drafts and topics. You don’t think about it when you’re younger; at least I did not. I wrote from the time I was in elementary school. When it came to school assignments, I was a guilty procrastinator, also. I am beginning graduate school this summer. With a two-year-old, part-time job and as a writer; I know planning is all part of the process. Thank you once again for the inspiration! ~ Rebecca

    1. Rebecca, good luck with grad school! I am a mother as well, so I know how hard that can be. Hang in there! It sounds like you are starting a new adventure. Thanks for commenting.

  52. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! This is a great topic and one I ponder when my idea well is dry and I can’t figure out why I’m doing more reading than writing. Turns out, its one of the things I must do right in order to get the creativity flowing again, as I usually read in solitude. Best to you.

  53. Great post! I get a lot of inspiration while in the shower, too. Or while riding my bike. Moments when my thoughts can drift, and I can’t be distracted by the “busyness” of life, as you mentioned. Of course it is the very busyness of life that is where ideas stem from… If I spent my whole life in the shower, I wouldn’t have many interesting things to say to an outside world! Haha.

    Anyway, wonderful post. Congrats on being “pressed.”

  54. It was the title of the post that first drew me in, and I’m glad I stayed to read through to the end. There’s a lot to be said for making quiet time wherever you can, but I don’t think you should under estimate the strange alchemy of writing in the presence of others. I get the impression that you feel that in creating a quiet time for your students and forcing them to write in class that this is a sort of stop gap and not something of value in its own right. I find that while I too need quiet to write there is also something very encouraging about other people’s industry, so sitting with other people writing often generates unexpected new ideas for me, and it’s now something I do regularly with a small group of friends (so long as they behave properly(!))

    1. Thanks for helping me to feel better about quiet, drafting time. I worry that they aren’t gaining anything from it. But they are. They really are! (If they show up!) 🙂

  55. Kudos on being Freshly Pressed! And I have a solution, you know how we used to have water-proof radios for the shower? Skymall could invent a water-proof tape (I know, old-school…maybe an iPoddy thing) recording device to hang in the shower? I usually get my first sentence inbetween rinsing!

    1. Wow! That is so cool. I love that you have implemented a solution in the shower. I’m all talk. I guess I need to get into gear and actually solve the problem instead of complaining about it!

  56. That was a really interesting post. I often find myself procrastinating when I should be writing up something for college. I even find that when I write for recreational purposes it can be tough to start. There is almost a fear of failing before I begin. I think part of the procrastination is the fear of writing something terrible. If you never start writing then there is no chance of failure. Waiting for that “inspiration” to strike and claiming to have writer’s block is something that I think could be overcome with a strict routine and a certain amount of discipline.

  57. Insightful post. I don’t know what it is about the shower that makes one so creative. If I had to come up with a theory it would be the aspect of sensory deprivation it provides. With the uniform white or repeated tiled background and the gush of water in your ears. Also, the womb-like comfort of being encased in a warm glove of water. It gives me sense of isolation, calming my mind by drawing away from constantly following the flow of sensory information from this to that. Maybe this is why ideas can coalesce so readily in there. You can also get shower proof ipad cases as well.

    Apart from showers, I find boredom and procrastination from work to be a reliable (if annoying) generator of curiosity. It is as if my mind tries to escape repetitive or technical task by running into the creative.

    I totally agree with your comments on how technology can be a bit of a plug on thinking and creativity. I think that sometimes we need to give our own network time away from the greater network that we spend so much of our life in. That extends to pretty much all form of information, if I need to form some original thought then I have (time permitting) to go on a fast for a while from similar sources. Only then can I listen to my own voice.

    Do you find this at all?

    Best Wishes,

    1. Benji, what a thoughtful comment. I agree with your sensory perception observation. I also like what you say about boredom. I heard some advice a few days ago that it is okay to let children be bored so that they can work out how to solve that problem themselves and engage in creative thinking and play. Thanks for your words! Very nice addition to the conversation.

  58. If you do ever come up with a solution to capturing that shower inspiration, you’ll have to share because I am another who comes up with some great ideas there.

    I also really enjoyed your thoughts on procrastination. I used to be a disciple of the church of procrastination. Then I wised up and realized that I had to really just write, revise, write, revise, and write some more. I am not sure why it shocked me that I got better results that way – it’s really just common sense. Or is it a writer learning how to hone her craft? Either way, I’m glad I came to my senses.

    Thanks for a great post!

    1. I am glad you came to your senses too! I think most of us who get serious about writing eventually mature into that. I love your description of being a disciple of the church of procrastination. Very nice!

  59. haha. well said. I also have these moments of inspiration when I’m in the middle of doing something else, like showering, doing the dishes, listening to a articular song and mostly when I travel and look at the landscapes I pass by. I sometimes have sort of revelations when I’m praying, to say so. Its good that I always have the iPhone on me and i can immediately write down whatever passes through my mind or, if I am motivated enough, I even write a blog post.
    I’m going to follow your blog, happy to have found someone similar to me.
    Best wishes!

  60. I can totally relate to this! I spend too much time in the shower because that’s where ideas magically appear in my head.. There’s something about the quietness and stillness inside the shower that spark those ideas and reflections that we can write about! Great post! 🙂

  61. Being told to write in a controlled environment and to come up with anything remotely worth a read back is a hard task as a teacher to endorse. I applaud your dedication and I do hope in years to come your effort with your students comes full circle for you and you are credited with inspiring a writer – I doubt you will get the satisfaction just yet , as with a good thinking shower – or just the space in time to allow your mind to flow effortlessly, it is not something sitting in a classroom is going to create, so at least hope for ignition.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. Hope is what I have and all I can count on! Controlled environments, as best as we make them, may not do the trick. Thanks for your words of encouragement!

  62. This reminds me of the saying that ‘nothing creative is developed in a meeting’. Creativity most often sources from calm. No wonder your mind explodes with ideas in the shower or quiet car!

  63. I love this post! I take a shower when I’ve hit a block. For some reason it always clears my head so that I can focus again and get back to writing. 🙂

  64. I was sent this article by a friend, Andrew Southard, who I told, what certainly was almost the identical story as was written in this blog. Imagine my surprise when I awakened this morning, finished my productive shower, and seated myself to my computer, only to open my email and find the link to here at the top of my mornings email, with the subject header, “You are not alone!”

    Every morning I take a shower of close to 45 minutes and sometimes longer. I exercise in the while doing it. Why, because I find myself at age 69, very very stiff each morning? I have exercised like this for the last three years. Because I begin to think and relax as the soothing warm water gently pounds my body, I grasp the shower bar, which I use for support, as I begin to do deep knee bends and pull ups. I hate exercise. But, because I think in the shower, I lose track of the repetitions I need to do and it makes the exercise mentally easier because I am so deeply entrenched in what I am thinking before I do my writing each morning. Then I forget how much I hate the exercise. The solitary situation the shower provides lets me settle into a rhythm of both the mind and the body at the same time. I would run or jog to accomplish this as well, if it was not so bad on my knees.

    I used to read in the shower. Strange? It did get my hardback books all wrinkled, but I am a fast reader, between 60-100 pages an hour, and that allowed me to read 2-4 books a week. When I started writing, I found myself no longer reading in the shower, but rather using the time to reflect about what I needed to write that morning. It was like magic. I would finish up my shower and literally run up my stairs to get to my computer to begin pounding the keys with the enlightenment I had worked through. My stories and tales appeared on my screen as I moved from my mind, to my fingers to the keys, and the words which were residing in my new washed carefully thoughts, to becoming a reality on pages for others to share.

    I truthfully never imagined that there were others like me. When I told Andrew, several years ago before I was writing to any real degree, that I read in the shower, he laughed at me. When I related to him that I now concocted what I write there, he laughed some more. But when he sent me this article and told me I was not by myself, I then laughed because I realized that what I had told him struck a bell, and when he read it he knew where my head was.

    Great article. Thanks!


    1. Jon, this is delightful! I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone either, and it seems like we are in good company with all of the comments! It sounds like you take your shower time a little more seriously than I do. Mine is more like I just find myself thinking and then I realize how productive it has been and I have to hurry and write things down. I love that you plan on it and read in there and just use that time so well. I may have to follow your lead. Thanks for sharing your story and your experiences!

      1. Thanks for responding. Andrew sent me a copy of your blog post and I saw it and instantly had to write a comment. I literally run to the computer afterwards to get those ideas and word flow down. When I get tired I do not write as well…and I forget. Nice to meet you.

  65. Emily, thank you, your article tickled me so much when I stumbled on it.

    I’m currently working with my photographer and author friend, Jon B Barry, on a website/blog to publicise his books and when I read this, it had his name written all over it. Several years ago Jon told me that for most of his life he would read 2-4 hardback books in the shower each week (yes, I still think that is peculiar!) Now he is writing he has merely transferred the reading time to writing time – in his head I believe, but maybe he has a waterproof notepad.

    Anyway, when I read your article and all the comments I just had to send him the link. It turns out he also thought he was odd, because as quick as you like he’d responded to me with a new post on our site… I think you made his day!

    I thought it might amuse you and you don’t appear to object to links – you are credited as the inspiration anyway: http://www.authorsnovels.com/you-are-not-alone-in-the-shower

    1. Of course I don’t disapprove of links! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to read what he wrote, and it was so kind of him to comment on my post. I think THIS situation is exactly why I love blogging so much. It connects us with like-minded people that we would normally not even know about. 🙂

      1. As it turns out, I didn’t understand that Jon had sent me what he posted here… I couldn’t retract so I just left it to your discretion which of the double posts got approved… our process has been duly updated! 🙂 But whatever, it still stands, I loved finding your article. One question… have you ever read a hardback book in the shower? I still stand by this being weird 😉

        1. I did click over to his post and realized that it was the same. No worries! And no, I have never read a hardback book in the shower. I am with you on that being weird, but also quite awesome.

          1. I am laughing now…and yes, it is weird. But I had bought the books to read, not to have on a shelf, and in this manner I have been able to read a large number of books. They were not destroyed, just looked very well read, and none of the places I gave the books to later turned them down. If I go to a used book store, I always want to purchase books which look like they have been read. Those ones they sell that are all new looking is a warning to me that no one liked it. 🙂

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