This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.
How Shower Thoughts Can Help You Beat Writer's Block
Getting to do a job you love is certainly rewarding, but it’s not always easy.
Anyone who writes for a living knows what writer’s block feels like. Sometimes the creative juices are just not flowing, and you might feel helpless. The most important thing to remember - before trying any of these methods - is that writer’s block is temporary.
Think about the act of taking a shower. It’s no coincidence that moments of enlightenment are sometimes referred to as “shower thoughts”. Interestingly enough, there are a number of reasons why the act of showering boosts creativity. Understanding the physiology behind creative moments can help you beat writer’s block.
The fact is, taking a warm shower feels good. This increase in physical comfort can cause your brain to release extra dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter which has been known to increase short term creativity levels.The best part is, you don’t always need to be in the shower to increase your dopamine levels.
Dopamine release has been connected to everything from exercise to listening to music.
When you feel writer’s block coming on, simply take a break and find something to do that you truly enjoy. This may increase the levels of dopamine in your brain, giving you that much needed creative boost.
When you are in the shower you are inhabiting a safe space where you have time to relax and reflect. The white noise of the water blocks out other interferences, and the time becomes yours and yours alone. Showering can also cause Alpha waves in your brain, which are present during times of deep relaxation or meditation, and can lead to times of increased creativity.
Once again, relaxation can extend beyond the shower. If you start to feel stuck, take some time to meditate by yourself, where you are alone with your ideas. You might just find that the inspiration you were looking for was right there all along.
See our pages on relaxation skills for more advice.
If there is one thing creative people all have in common, it’s that we are an easily distracted bunch.
Interestingly, scientific studies have shown that the phenomena of a ‘wandering mind’ is actually a trait of highly creative people. So embrace distraction by doing something basic, such as taking a shower. Allowing your mind to wander--at this point--will provide more of a boost than anything.
The shower, for instance, is a place where no actual work can possibly be done (safely, at least). It’s a retreat; a spot where you can take a step back and think about what is hindering the writing process, and what needs to be accomplished in order to move on.
Distraction taken a step further becomes daydreaming. Daydreaming relaxes your prefrontal cortex, and essentially switches your brain into default mode.
In this mental state you are able to make innovative connections that you may have dismissed in a different mindstate, making you temporarily more creative. Consider daydreaming to be more of an exploration of creativity; an over indulgence of the thing that you need the most in order to accomplish the task at hand.
If you find yourself staring at a writing prompt and getting nowhere, it may help to take a step back, and daydream a little. Briefly engulf yourself in a book or movie that engages you, and like daydreaming take it from there.
Most people shower first thing in the morning, or near the end of the night. During these times people are likely to feel groggy and tired. Once again, your prefrontal cortex is less engaged, and your creativity is peaked.
Benefitting from this one is a little harder. Try setting writing times late at night or early in the morning. If you succeed in banishing your writer’s block, you may want to make it a habit.
At the end of the day, none of these techniques are foolproof; sometimes writers are just stuck. Realizing the technology available to you, and how you can use it to find sources of inspiration, is half the battle.
In the end, it’s changing your mindset that leads to the boost in creativity that you need. Writer’s block, at its core, is what happens when the flow of ideas stops. What heightens the feeling of helplessness is the realization that you aren’t thinking clearly.
Putting yourself in that shower mentality, where you are stuck with your thoughts and observations, is key to moving on from that feeling of being stuck.
About the Author
Nick Rojas is a small business consultant and journalist based in Chicago and Los Angeles. He often finds himself with writer’s block, and has spent years attempting to find the best ways to fight it. His work often covers globalization, technology, and social media.