Why the shower is my idea factory


No, I’m not trying to brag. What I mean by that statement is that my job as a writer and content strategist requires me to be creative—all day, every day, which is no mean feat.

I try to make it look easy, because my fear and insecurity tell me that if my boss (or my boss’ boss) knew how hard it was to keep those ideas flowing, maybe they’d think I wasn’t worth my paycheck and would replace me with someone more brilliant.

But the truth is, it’s not that easy. I mean, it’s easier for me than for some, but only because I’ve been practicing for a long time (longer than I care to disclose here).

I thought I’d share one of my trade secrets, in case you also need to dazzle those around you with your creativity and brilliance. The technique I’m about to explain (if you can call it a technique) is particularly useful if you’re trying to name a product or a pet, write a song, come up with a party menu, create a signature drink…pretty much anything.

The basic principle is this: sometimes, the mind acts like a petulant child. It resents being prodded too aggressively. After a few sessions of hardcore brainstorming, it often shuts down on you. It’s your brain’s passive-aggressive way of saying “sorry, we’re closed.”

Some people call this “writer’s block.” Others say they’ve reached saturation point. Whatever you call it, most of us experience it from time to time. Even me. (Don’t tell my boss.)

So, here’s a practice I’ve developed over the course of my career.

When you feel the door about to crash down on you, indulge the ol’ gray matter. Back off and stop pushing. Tell your disobedient mind you’ll get back to it later. Then, mentally walk away. Go watch TV. Make dinner. Listen to music. Dye your roots. Distract yourself.

The cool news is that that big brain of yours never really stops working. Once it gets an assignment, it keeps processing in the background. It requires some trust. You have to surrender to the belief that your mental computer won’t let you down.

I find that sleep is the time when that background process really gets to work. It’s different than dreams. It’s quieter. It really is like running a program while you snooze.

More often than not, the next morning, answers begin to reveal themselves to me. Sometimes it happens on my way to work. But usually, it happens in the shower. I’m not kidding. The shower is where the “magic” really takes place. Maybe my brain just prefers nudity. Or it finds hot water relaxing. I can’t say. My brain is generally a mystery to me.

I highly encourage you to try the “shower” method of creative problem solving. I’m rooting for you! The world needs more creative people. So, leave a comment and let me know how it goes.