The Soapy Primordial Soup of Ideas


It is said that Issac Newton got the idea for gravity from a falling apple. That J.K. Rowling found inspiration at a coffee shop table. And penicillin popped up when Alexander Fleming forgot to put away the dishes.

Me, I have nothing so grand. But my ideas do come mainly from one place. The Cone of Silence and Suds that is my bathroom shower.

I'm not sure what it is, exactly. The lavender soap? The comforting steamy water? Isolation and exfoliation?

Maybe it's the fact it's six in the morning and I'm still too tired to turn ideas away at the door, bags in hand. No: "Hey you, Mutant Idea-- you're too weird. Take a hike."

Nope, I'm vulnerable then. So instead, I take the Idea's bags, offer it a cup of java and embrace it. "Come, you twelve-eyed freak of a concept! Come stay a while! What took you so long to get here? Bad traffic?"

This probably explains much to many.

The thing is, it does work. But I can't say the technique applies very well to other situations. Like, say, my Real Job as a marketing writer...

"We have a new project," says the boss-type person. "We need to get together and brainstorm. Here is the rubber ducky. I'll get my loofah. And we'll meet you in the shower at 10:30."

I don't want to be a part of that, and I'm sure my colleagues would heartily agree.

Same goes for working with clients. First of all, we'd have all new images floating around our brains, distracting us from the task at hand.

Second, spilled office coffee can scald.

Third, we'd have no place to put our pens.

I try to be practical about these things, and this is just not an adaptable process for idea generation.

So tell me, folks-- what do you do to get your best ideas?


I was kinda happy with this one, and I suspect you might get a chuckle.

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27 comments:

Susan of ThinkThinks said...

I can identify with the shower inspiration. I always seem to come up with my best ideas under the shower and then have to chant them to myself like a mantra until I can get to a piece of paper and write them down (darn that faulty short term memory).

A friend suggested that I keep a chinagraph pencil/china marker in the shower to write down my ideas, but since that would mean cleaning the shower more regularly it has never happened.

Jenn Thorson said...

Susan- I'm both scared and delighted to learn I'm not the only one with this same process!

And I know what you mean about the chanting. I can keep about three sentences that I think work in my head at a time... And then after that, it starts spilling out from the ears and gets lost. :)

ettarose said...

I never have paper and a pen when I need one. My biggest problem is wanting to write something when there is nothing coming to the old noggin. I refuse to write when I am not ready. I would rather post nothing than force something. I do know that my ideas just pop into my head, I am usually not anywhere special.

Joel Klebanoff said...

Yeah, what is it about showers? I don't use scented soaps. And I don't even know what exfoliation means. But pretty well every original idea I've ever had has come to me in the shower.

I figure that showers are somehow connected to a parallel universe that is overflowing with ideas, so some of them stream out through the shower head.

OK. One original idea didn't come to me in the shower. It may be inane, but it's still an idea.

Da Old Man said...

I just read a bunch of blogs and then take a nap. Usually, mid nap, I get an idea. That's why most of my posts read like they were written by one who is half asleep.

Your shower stimulates various neurons which, of course, leads to ideas. Not practical to shower at work, but perhaps you could convince management to place a lawn sprinkler in the middle of the office. It should have the same effect, without having to see any nekkid co-workers.

ReformingGeek said...

Anything that distracts me from active thinking gives me my ideas. Primarily, when I'm running because my poor brain is trying to actively figure out how to get one foot in front of the other without falling and making the lungs work at the same time. There is only a small amount of brain power left for the sub-conscious at that point.

Shawn said...

I get all my ideas from Satan.

No, not the devil, but Bob Satan, a retired used car salesman who lives two doors down from me. He doesn't have a driver's license, so I go get him Busch Light in exchange for the ridiculousness that makes up my blog.

beth♥ said...

The sleeper must awaken! Insipiration always comes in the shadowy moments between wakefulness and sleep ... hence, my insomnia. I have to get up and, at the very least, outline the idea or begin to write or I will lose it by morning.

Jenn Thorson said...

Ettarose- That's probably a good idea, not trying to force ideas if you're not feeling the mood. Especially if you haven't set any specific deadlines for yourself.

Joel- I think you might have a funny sci-fi tale in your future with that one. But I will also add you to our list of ShowerThinkers.

DaOldMan- A sprinkler might be fun. Or a corporate slip-n-slide. I can see some of our web developers enjoying that. :) My God... I think that might be an episode of The Office.

ReformingGeek- And running is another darned place where you don't have paper handy to write things down!! How does it always happen??

Shawn- What I want to know is, does he pronounce it "Shay-tan"? Like Miroslav Satan, the hockey player? :) And I hope when he worked at the car lot, he had a name tag that read, "Hello, my name is Satan"...

Beth- Do you keep a notebook by your bed then? I know I can't write before I go to bed or I'll never sleep, I just lie there thinking of what I was working on.

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

I seem to get most of my ideas when lying in bed. And I've gotten back up and come downstairs to jot it down on the laptop in case I forget, which is really stupid, when you think about it. Guess I should start keeping my writing notebook by my bed again...

Jenn Thorson said...

Mary- Well, at least you know you'll have the info where you'll need it next. And if you're anything like me, my handwriting is atrocious. Try reading it when I'm awake, let alone when I'm half-asleep and jotting it down on the bed endtable. :)

dizzblnd said...

inspiration hits me at the wierdest times.. Like when I am putting water in my tires or being a smartass, sitting on the toilet ..oh wait.. that IS my inspiration.

Mostly, soetimes cxomments to or from other bloggers gets me started, or a blog post will remind me of something I have long fogotten.

JD at I Do Things said...

I do get a lot of ideas in the shower, come to think of it. Also just as I'm about to fall asleep, which is annoying. But most of them come when I'm working out on the elliptical cross-trainer. I know to have a small notebook and pen on the little shelfy thing with my water bottle. My notes are usually pretty hard to read, but I know I'd forget them otherwise.

Jenn Thorson said...

Dizzblnd- Ah, yes-- I've had other bloggers' stories remind me of stories to share, too. I must have missed the putting water in your tires tale, though. :)

JD- Aren't you a smart lady to keep the notebook by your elliptical machine, though!

Mom and girls said...

Hmmm, am I the only one who doesn't think in the shower?

I get lots of great ideas driving down the road. And of course by the time I can write them down, most ideas have flown away, or flown smack into the grill guard of a passing truck.

Jenn Thorson said...

Mom and girls- Hey, no, no none of that dying for your creativity there. :) But I know what you mean-- the only paper I usually have to write on in the car is store receipts!

mwaybob said...

YES YES. There is something about water that brings me brain to me to.

Whenever stuck with a problem, I have a bath and switch my brain off.

After the bath, the soupy brain powers begin to work full steam :-)

Jenn Thorson said...

MWayBob- I believe writer Douglas Adams was also a big supporter of having a bath as a way of getting ideas... or procrastinating. I'm not sure which. :) But you're in very good company!

Chaotically Calm said...

I never have pen and paper when I need it. My best ideas tend to come when I'm driving. This is not great for other drivers but to date (knocking on imaginery wood) I haven't caused any accidents because of it. At the same token by the time I reach my destination I've long forgotten the brillance(look at the credit I give myself) from the drive which would explain why the readers are stuck with such randomness.

Mike said...

Kill animals.

Wait.

Eat animals that are already dead.

That's it.

unfinishedrambler said...

First, you have a sick and twisted following, Jenn Thorson.

Second, my ideas usually awaken me in the middle of the night, to which I normally respond by telling my wife to remind me in the morning about my great idea. She usually forgets, though, too, and that's why I am where I am today: in the middle of nowhere, penniless. It's her fault. ;)

Jenn Thorson said...

Faith- I know what you mean about not remembering it when you get there. Sometimes then it's not only impossible to remember the idea, but even the general topic it was about.

Mike- Doing some general brainstorming there? :)

UnfinishedDude- Indeed, I do. They're absolutely demented... and I adore them. PS- I think Shieldmaiden may need to get you a nice tape recorded for Christmas. So you can let the poor gal sleep and not be your reminder board. :)

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John J Savo, the Authoring Auctioneer said...

LOL at the thought of a brain storming meeting in the shower. That's some funny stuff.

Most of my ideas start off because I'm thinking about sex... One thing leads to another and then bam! I have an idea about Heaven seeking bailout money.

Totally logical.

Jenn Thorson said...

John- Absolutely! Makes perfect sense to me! :) (And I saw that post-- very funny.)

love sms said...

actually when i take a shower then i relies that an idea is jumping around me and i feel awful lol

that mean i got a lot of ideas when i take shower :P

love sms said...

one more thing i make a website last week and i take idea in washroom :P hehe