My Secret to Removing Writer’s Block

As I’m starting to type this blog post, it is 1:07 pm. I am hearing the first stirrings from our oldest son’s room as he gets up and turns on the shower. His younger brother, known to sleep through all manner of alarm clocks we’ve bought him over the last few months, even faulty smoke alarms that make the rest of us buzz like angry bees, is still sleeping soundly. With four teenagers in our house, it is not an uncommon sight to find people in the kitchen helping themselves to breakfast at 4 pm.

Anyway, let’s file away the time stamp, we’ll come back to that later.

I love my life as a writer. Due to a recent business acquisition, I’ve been busier than ever and have had no time for my blog, let alone book #2, although writing is still what I occupy most of my time with. It’s just a slightly different type of story that I write now, for a new kind of audience. I’ll perhaps divulge the details at some other time.

What hasn’t changed, however, is how I go about my writing. Every morning I get out of bed when the house is still asleep, brew some tea (Earl Grey), and open my computer to create that day’s content. I love the way I can just lounge about in my pajamas. No one cares what I look like while I write, and I hate to be interrupted by such distractions as picking out what to wear, or blowdrying my hair. The only interruption I willingly embrace is when it’s time to change from pajamas to sweat pants and head to the tennis court. By the time I get back home, I’m usually so eager to get back to my computer that I forego the shower, and by the time it’s evening there seems to be no point.

I can spend days like this without actually properly getting dressed. Before you’re totally grossed out, I’d like to mention that I very rarely sweat. The last time I broke a sweat was in July during back-to-back singles matches in Mobile, AL in 95 degree heat and 100% humidity. My tennis partners can attest that I hardly ever even stop for a water break. I am happiest at a room temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, make that 78, and I drive my carpool taxi year-round with the bum warmer turned to high. I classify anything below 60 degrees as freezing and reason for grabbing the down coat before heading out.

Still, even I must admit that every once in a while a shower is needed. On those occasions I’ll grudgingly detach myself from the screen I’ve been glued to for hours, fingers hovering over the keyboard, willing my brain to construe the next sentence but coming up empty because, let’s face it, it was 2 am the previous night before I went to bed, and I’ve already nodded off several times this morning (I suppose I shouldn’t complain about the hours my teenagers keep).

And then it surprises me every time: The shower is actually the thing that gets my creative juices going again. Works like a charm, every single time. As soon as that hot water – trust me, it’ll be very hot – starts raining down on my back, all sorts of wonderful ideas start germinating in my mind. I don’t often suffer from prolonged writer’s block, but I do get stuck in a rut sometimes. That beginning sentence I labored over so much all morning? Solved! Totally different approach, much more elegant, and only possible with the gentle power of dripping water and steam. And then the floodgates – excuse the pun – open. Not only do I find a solution to the latest tricky passage, entire new stories start building up, crying out to be told, the idea for an entire novel, the invention of the Internet if Al Gore hadn’t beat me to it. Oh the sweet and glorious inspiration seeping through that mundane shower head directly into my brain.

I really should take that shower more often. I wonder if my water bill could be claimed as a tax deduction for necessary business expenses.

Which brings me back to that time stamp I asked you to remember earlier. It is now 1:52 pm. I’m typing the last few words of this blog post, and my son has just turned off the shower. Tonight at approximately midnight he’ll repeat the whole ordeal again.

I can only hope that water has some sort of inspiring effect on him too, that these 90 minutes a day unleash some creative power onto the world as yet unseen. Maybe he’ll invent the next Internet.

Then you can thank us for footing the water bill.

Removing writer's block by taking a shower
I never had much time to be inspired under this African bush shower. That bucket held exactly 5 minutes of warm water one had to first carry a distance from the so-called donkey boiler. I’ve harbored dreams of installing one in our home so that those teenage showers could be curtailed.

What about you? Do showers help with your writer’s block or do you have a different secret ingredient?

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