I attended a write-in at my local Starbucks last Saturday. Now I don’t drink coffee, but I didn’t let that keep me from showing up with my laptop and meeting four wonderful and talented writers for a day (or partial day) of writing, conversation, and support.
I discovered that just a change of scenery went a long way in helping me to tap into some creativity. I’m working the 2nd draft of my story. It’s proven to be very challenging for me. But I found that being in the company of others struggling with the same issues gave me a little more confidence to slay this dragon.
One of the topics that came up that day was the undeniable fact that some of our best ideas come in the shower. We relayed similar experiences of being in the shower and having some crucial plot point, story problem or idea just materialize in our brains.
One of the writers mentioned reading an article about this phenomenon, so I did a little research. I learned creativity is directly related to the amount of dopamine released in our brains. The more dopamine, the more creativity. What does this have to do with loofahs and rubber duckies? It turns out that having more dopamine is only part of the equation-you have to be relaxed too. When our minds are relaxed the alpha waves are focused inward where all of the creativity lives. (Okay, you understand I am paraphrasing, right?) When we aren’t relaxed we focus outward on problems and our brains can’t make those important connections that allow creativity to occur. Most people find warm showers soothing and relaxing, which increases the dopamine, which allows connections, which unlocks creativity.
I’ve experienced this many times. But not ever if I intentionally go into the shower, turn on the water, and wait for inspiration to strike like a lightning bolt. (Which would be a bad thing because I’m dripping wet, after all.) When I do this, I’m still focusing outward on the problems and not letting the creative juices flow on their own.
Of course, there’s more to it than Science, I think. For me, being in the shower means that I’m not checking email, thinking about my day job, fixing dinner, mopping floors, or reading Twitter. Distraction is a huge part of any writer’s life. Those sacred few moments in the shower get rid of distractions. Inside that little tile box it’s just me, my Garnier Fructis and the words bouncing around in my brain. It becomes more than a shower, it’s an oasis in the desert. Sometimes that’s all it takes to solve a story problem or defeat writer’s block.
I’m sure it won’t be long before someone invents a laptop you can use in the shower.
Hey, that actually might fit nicely into my Sci-Fi story…