The idea for this post came to me while I was in the shower. This isn’t the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Shower inspiration is a pretty universal phenomenon, yet every time it strikes, I feel as if I’ve uncovered some mystical secret to creativity.
What is it about the shower that unleashes our inner muse? According to Washington University psychologist R. Keith Sawyer, “When we take time off from working on a problem, we change what we’re doing and our context, and that can activate different areas of our brain. If the answer wasn’t in the part of the brain we were using, it might be in another.”
For me, the shower is one of maybe two or three times during my day when I’m wholly unplugged and free from my usual multitasking. I don’t listen to music or a podcast. There isn’t a television show on as background noise. I’m not playing a silly game on my phone (Design Home is my latest obsession) or mindlessly scrolling through social media. I’m singularly engaged in a task that doesn’t require much attention — my brain has space to breathe.
I recognize that it would be impractical and rather destructive to our planet’s water supply to rely solely on my shower stall as the source of inspiration in my life. So, I’ve come up with a list of ideas to spark inspiration and kick my muse into full gear.
Embrace the Boring Treadmill
In the past, I’ve always dreaded the treadmill or elliptical machine. I position myself so I can watch TV, make sure I have a podcast to listen to, use the time to respond to emails, or sometimes all three. What if I didn’t? What if I embraced the monotony of the machine and gave my brain a break? Perhaps getting in my cardio wouldn’t be the only benefit.
Engage the Brain
There’s a reason coloring books have been having a moment (or a few year’s worth of moments). Quiet, creative tasks like coloring are calming and can even be meditative. If coloring books aren’t your thing, maybe try a maze or a jigsaw puzzle.
Take a Walk and Leave the Earbuds at Home
I think my muse is an outdoorsy girl at heart. Because there’s something about fresh air, increased circulation, and a change of scenery that does wonders for her productivity. For me, an unaccompanied field trip is a sure way to find inspiration. On the best days, the idea comes early, so I have the rest of the walk to flesh it out.
Have Lunch with a Friend
This one is for the extroverts out there. I had 3-hour lunch with a girlfriend a few weeks ago. We talked and ate and solved the world’s problems. I came away feeling energized and inspired, and she shared professional advice and insights that were incredibly helpful.
Inspiration is a funny and fleeting thing. It’s elusive — rarely is it there when we want or need it. It seems to sneak up on it when we least expect us. And it never performs on demand. As a writer, I feel as though I’m continually chasing inspiration and I rarely catch it. So, I’m changing my tactic. Instead of chasing inspiration, I’m going to create space for it to find me.
Featured Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash
Photo in Post by Tatiana Diakova on Unsplash