I’ve noticed when I’m trying to write, the ideas really flow. Not while I’m sitting at my computer, of course. But rather, when I’m immersed in water. Showers are great, but swimming laps in the pool really opens up the creativity taps. So many ideas will “float” around that I keep a notepad by the side of the pool. Before you ask, yes I did investigate underwater writing tablets. They weren’t what I needed to transcribe my thoughts quickly. Yes, the paper tends to get a bit damp, but I write carefully so that even water-smudged, I can still read my writing. If you’ve seen my scrawl, you’d know how hard it is to read on dry paper. Anyway, I digress. Intrigued by my soggy moments of inspiration, I set out to investigate this phenomenon. And wouldn’t you know, science has the answer!
Science Loves a Shower
This topic was inspired by an article by Stacey Colino in National Geographic entitled The science of why you have great ideas in the shower. Apparently, water-induced inspiration isn’t unique to me! The author summarizes the research of the past couple of decades into where in the brain creativity is activated.
Often when we grind away at a problem, we’re told to go do something else, work on another project. Frequently, doing activities on “autopilot” results in a mental breakthrough. Why is this happening? Scientists believe that letting your mind wander allows the brain to tap into unusual memories and generate new ideas. It’s not hard work that comes up with great ideas, but passive activities. Passive activities are those involving habitual actions or resting, like a shower. In fact, specific areas of the brain are more active during passive tasks.
Letting my mind wander is the best way to come up with creative ideas. Supposedly, it lets thoughts, memories, and ideas bounce around and combine in new ways. I imagine it as something like a mental pinball machine.
The scientists offer suggestions for increasing creative output. Getting sufficient sleep is important in solidifying the information inputted during the day. Immediately upon awakening, you should record your thoughts since they have tapped your creative potential. I do have a notepad by my bed.
Intermingle your day with mentally demanding activities, such as writing this blog, with more mindless activities to let your mind wander. So, why are showers stimulating mentally? Your mind is free to roam, there’s the white noise of the falling water, and ideas are allowed to bounce around.
No Water Needed
Another suggestion is getting out into nature. My friend calls it Vitamin N. Your thoughts wander when you’re outside, trying to take in the enormity of the world around you. The researchers suggest taking a walk. I prefer to get on my horse and let him do the walking.
Science recommends engaging in passive activities for as long as it takes your mind to unwind. But for many people, this leads to guilt. After all, why am I wasting time swimming or riding when I should be working on my next book or, more importantly, my marketing? Actually, taking the time to let my mind roam freely will lead to increased productivity and save me time when writing.
So, excuse me, I must go and daydream for a while. Maybe in a pool, sitting in the falling rain, in the hot tub, or a quick shower. Remember, power your muse with a shower!
If you’d like to shower your kids with science-based learning take a look at my educational and fun workbooks, based on topics such as biology and conservation.