Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shower Writing

My writing retreat is drawing near the end - back to the real world with its distractions. But there's one technique I must remember when I'm struggling to make time to write: the power of standing in the shower, especially a long one while I wash my hair.

When I lead writing workshops, I often tell the attendees that, if they run into a situation where they're not sure what to write next, they should walk away from their computer or pad of paper, and do something that will get their hands dirty (weeding, or working on engines are two good activities). As soon as the imagination knows your hands are too grubby to write, it lets loose a flood of ideas on how to get past the current writing blockade. Then you trick your imagination by having a pencil handy that you don't mind getting muddy or greasy, and write down your idea before it can get away. But showers are even better.

I spend my time in the shower thinking about my characters - not about them taking showers, but about what they're doing in the upcoming chapter. I allow them to carry on conversations and take action - apparently, the notion that I can't write while my hands are covered in soap or shampoo frees up my imagination wonderfully. Whole scenes write themselves. The trick is to get out of the shower and write them down immediately. What I write doesn't have to be perfect; I just get what I've imagined down on paper. Then, after my hair is brushed out, I can keystroke it into my Mac and tweak and polish as I go.

Presto: my imagination is satisfied, my drive to move forward with my manuscript is satisfied, and since a shower a day is good for one's health (and for the comfort of everybody in one's vicinity), it's a terrific way to make good progress every day.

1 comment:

  1. And there I thought I was the only one who kept paper and pencil in the bathroom closet! You are totally right (write?) as usual.