Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Fricassee

Yesterday, I had a plot breakthrough in the bath tub.

I know, I know.  So many of you have told me over the years how you get ideas in the shower and in the bath and while doing synchronized swimming in your neighbor's pool (okay, not really).  But, truth be told, I'm not a water person.  I prefer a quick shower over a bath.  And at the shore?  I'm more of a toes-in-the-surf gal.  Don't make me get my suit wet.

So it was a bit of an alternate reality yesterday when, in desperation, I filled the whirlpool tub and climbed in with a clipboard and some blank sheets of manilla paper.  (Because that's best for doodling and such.)  I've been in SUCH a funk over my current plotting (new book)--utterly unable to figure things out, to the point where I actually announced to Mr. A, "I can't do this.  I'm just going to have to bag this book."

He didn't buy it.

So there I am, essential-oil-laced bubbles swirling round me, my playlist blasting through my bluetooth speaker over the roar of the water, clipboard on my knees, pen in hand.


Five minutes.

That's all it took to lubricate my brain.  Seriously, I had been sitting there for no more than five minutes when the answer I needed materialized before me.  And I began to furiously (and fairly illegibly) scribble on my page.

(Which eventually got wet, as you can see above.  But at least I didn't drop my wine glass into the water.  I've absolutely done that before.)

Naturally, I stayed in the tub well beyond those five golden minutes.  Worked out some more story stuff, but also just sort of reveled in the whole thing.  For me to move my scheduled writing time to a body of water is so outside of "me", and it was amazing how utterly fulfilling the time turned out to be.

Maybe it was the essential oil.  Or the wine.

But the real point is this:  I had to get completely outside of my own normal in order for my brain to do the work for me.  Part of our getting stuck, I think, is that we are in our daily rut, which puts our brain into a rut, too.  Not that we can't think or create or imagine or write every day, but it sometimes becomes harder to reach those really deep creative places when we need them.


So here's the takeaway.  Beyond the well-worn (and well proven) advice of "Go take a walk! Go take a shower! Go fill-in-the-blank!", I would like to add this:  GO DO SOMETHING YOU'D NEVER NORMALLY DO.  Shake it up to the point where the ideas tumble out of your head like blocks from an open sack.  If taking a walk is your usual modus operandi, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  Don't just change your scenery for something familiar.

Yesterday I discovered that my brain obviously cries for this--because look how it rewarded me!  I crawled into bed early last night to start my beat sheet afresh, and got about halfway through.  Today I am looking forward to continuing the work, instead of dreading it (as I have been for days).

I'm not going to tell you to go take a bath, because that might be what you normally do when you're in a stuck place.  I'm telling you to do something different for YOU.  And perhaps you'll have amazing results, too.

Whew, though!  Writing isn't for wimps.

And speaking of not-being-wimps--our first AGENT WISH LIST call for submissions will post on Monday morning.  I'm just a tad excited about this!

Okay, then.  Off I go.  Have a brilliant weekend, dear ones, and I'll see you Monday!


  1. Splish, Splash!
    Glad you found what you were looking for.

    Maggie May

  2. Glad you finally tried the bathtub, you know I use mine for a quick nap especially in the winter!!! So happy the tub bath got you writing again!!!!!!

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  4. Thanks for sharing this, complete with soggy paper (gotta love those visual details!). :) And you know, I don't think it necessarily has to be something you don't normally do -- I think what's most significant is that, while you may know that you need to do something other than sitting at your computer or at the table with a notebook in front of you, if you always use exactly the same thing, like taking a walk, for brainstorming about writing, you can turn it into another action that you associate with trying to write.

    I drive a lot, but I still get plenty of inspirations while driving, especially on long trips. The huge epiphany for how to completely revamp my big SF novel (which also resulted in it growing until I had to break it into three volumes!) came while I was driving to work on the freeway. And my best short story also came to me -- in one complete package, like a neatly-wrapped gift from the muse -- on the highway in the course of a two-hour drive.

    I've also had a lot of success with brainstorming about world building and plotting while riding my horse on the trail or hiking, although I do those things frequently as well. However, I usually don't set out on a ride or a hike planning to think about story ideas, it just happens. Of course, the tough part about getting great ideas in any of these places is that it may be a little while before you can get a chance to write anything down, so you just have to hope you don't forget any of it before you do!

  5. I used to swim laps and to take my mind off the boredom (and the thoughts about quitting and getting out of the pool), I would plot the next chapter of my WIP. It was almost magical what I could come up when when my body did one rote activity and my mind did another.

    Congrats on getting past the block!