Wanna Write Better? Shower More.

I conducted an experiment yesterday that forced me to take off from posting.  It was, however, an experiment that involved writing.  Therefore, I thought it might be of interest to all of you.


I’m a huge fan of writers and I pay attention to writers eccentricities as a result.  Sometimes I think some ritual or another holds all the keys to creating a masterpiece.  That’s probably not the case, but it’s fun to think it could be that easy.


I know weird things.  For example, I know that Stephen King listens to music when he writes.  Hard driving stuff like Metallica.  I also know that Aaron Sorkin obsessively takes showers, over and over again.  I know that Dan Harmon has a “hero’s journey” theory that he’s simplified down from Joseph Campbell’s.


…a young Stephen at work.


So, the other day I was skimming the New York times and I came across the hot, young,   playwright of the moment — I can no longer remember his name, nor have I ever read his work…  (Apparently, he writes some interesting things about Islam.)  What I DO remember about him, is the showering.  When he writes, he showers often.  Sometimes up to six times a day.


There you have it.  There are two writers – the hot, young, playwright and Sorkin who both shower obsessively when they are writing.  Now, Stephen King and Aaron Sorkin also did coke while writing, as I’m sure a slew of other writers have, but I’m too cash poor to try the cocaine thing out.  But, lucky for you I can try out the showering.


Sorkin prepping to work?


Yesterday, my experiment began.  I drove Wifesy to work, ran a couple of errands, and came back to the lodge for my first shower.


I showered…and I will say this, you start thinking a lot in that goddermned shower.  Maybe this was it?  The thinking part?  Maybe that’s why the famous writers do it?  I was thinking a lot about the play I’m writing and sort of setting things up in my mind.  But, then again, I tend to do that anyway.  I’ll sit and stare at my computer for a long time if I’m not sure exactly what I want to write.


I did feel fresh after that first shower, alert even, and sort of buzzing with a “ready to go” attitude.  Now, normally, I workout in the morning, stay in my sweats, write all day, do any of my other household stuff that needs to be done, and shower as I’m finished for the day.  In my mind, that sets me up for relaxing once my day is through.  So, it was interesting to have a different morning experience.


I wrote for a couple of hours and then made some lunch.  I took a power nap and when my alarm went off, I ran upstairs to shower AGAIN.  This was the second shower of the day.  I was a touch groggy from my nap, so the shower was a good re-set.  I sat down at my desk afterwards and still felt a touch sleepy in my body, but definitely a bit more alert in my mind.  I wrote for two more hours.


Then I ran upstairs and showered for the third time.  After the last shower, I came downstairs and started writing this piece.  I felt like I could switch gears nicely, from my playwriting to this post, so that was a plus.


Overall, I think I get why these guys shower so much.  It has a way of making you mentally “fresh” again.  Plus, the automatic skill of bathing causes your mind to wander and where it wanders (thankfully) is usually towards your story.


Now, I only showered 3 times over the course of a day and sometimes Sorkin and the other guy shower 6 times or more.  All I could think about that was, how in the feck do they fit it in?  It seems like a lot of extra work.


But, I will say, it’s a good way to let things marinate and to recharge your brain.


I read somewhere about the writer who wrote “Everything Is Illuminated.”  The author was in a class at university and the professor (another famous writer, himself) said, “You have the right energy to be a writer.”  What he meant was that the student would write and write and write and when you want to write as a profession, you must have that energy, that follow through, that drive to get to the end of the story.  And then that drive to rewrite it all over again.


As far as I can tell, that is the work part and if obsessive showering helps you get through it then I’m all for it.  Hey, it’s better than cocaine, right?


What about you guys?  Any interesting writing rituals to help you keep your juices flowing?



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Photo creds:

sorkin, king, feature



27 thoughts on “Wanna Write Better? Shower More.

  1. All I can think about is the amount of time I would spend blowdrying my hair if I showered that often. I’d have to opt for a ponytail and a bath. I don’t have any rituals. Maybe that’s my problem. Hahahahaha!

  2. Well, thoughts do come to me in the shower, but that hasn’t enticed me to up the number of daily cleanings. Who wants to shove long hair like mine into a shower cap six times a day? But I guess whatever works. I have no rituals, but you know I do like my writing time on the treadmill. 😉

  3. Most of my writing prompts pop up in my dreams. I don’t consciously come up with them, so it cannot be called a ritual. If I am lucky enough to remember the dream when I wake up, a post is born! This showering ritual seems a lot less tenuous than my dream-shindig. I’ll give it a try!

  4. My motivation seems random, but if I looked closely at it, my best ideas tend to pop into my bald head when I can least afford to sit at the computer for a few hours working on them. In the event i have all the time in the world, my brain looks something like a test pattern, only duller.

    1. ohhhh, i so understand. i have to think about my writing stuff when i’m not writing. that’s when i get the best stuff. when i actually sit at the computer, the idea better already be there or i am toast…

  5. definitely better than cocaine 🙂
    Sweet Mom i think best with music or when im lying down with lights off ready for a nap…
    in school i was the head of my house (true story) and we had to present a play…i wrote the play and the idea came to me when i was trying to study for my biology paper and almost fell asleep…weird but when im bored and sleepy my mind works..and ofcourse when m with music

  6. I get ideas in the shower, usually as I’m massaging my head with shampoo. Tried music while writing and found it intrusive. If I’m writing and I hit a wall, I get up, walk around the house and come back to the writing. Block gone.

  7. I think when I drive. I think when I am up very early in the morning with my first cuppa and smoke, which is also when I do most of my first drafts and put them in a file.

    No real rituals, but I think if I ever had to quit smoking I would also have to quit thinking.

  8. I get most of my good ideas while walking. Sometimes while showering, or brushing my teeth, but mainly while walking. I also started swimming recently, and occasionally I’ll get a good idea then too. It’s just that it’s hard to write stuff down when I’m in the pool, and the idea of getting out of the pool, schlepping to my locker to jot it down is kind of a drag. So I’ve had and lost good ideas that way.

  9. Ah this made me smile. I garden in between bouts of writing so showering is definitely a ‘last thing’ event. I have found though that just going to the loo can have the same effect as a shower. Something must happen when that pressure is gone…. 😀

  10. Early on in my blogging days, I did a “Friday the 13th” post about writers and superstitions. And I wondered if I should find some ritual that would help with my writing. I do get good ideas in the shower, but I don’t think I could handle six a day. My skin would get horribly dry.

    But walking’s also good for getting the creative juices flowing, and it’s good exercise that doesn’t dry my skin!

  11. I went through a period where I was only showering bi weekly. I had this thing in my head that I was scentless. Funnt, I think I got it from reading Perfume by Patrick Suskind. Anyway, I was going to the gym, dance classes, performing 6 nights a week and I really never smelled bad. 2 showers a week!!
    Now I go for a day and I STINK!!
    Portia xx

  12. I agree showering 6X a day is too much work. It does have a freeing effect, though. How about driving in a non-congested area? I find my mind clicks on thoughts I wouldn’t otherwise have. Plus it gives you the excuse of running lots of errands.

  13. I understand about King listening to Metalica when writing. If I write anything with a vampire at all, I have to be listening to Godsmack. Not sure why, but that’s what works. Sci-fi involving space travel or the moon works best with classical music. Probably because I watch 2001 when I was young and it just puts me in the right frame of mind as an adult.

    1. such an interesting comment, urban. and i have a whole idea based around that 2001 movie… time will tell if i get the f’en thing off the ground. i may need to listen to something to write today… i feel i need a jolt to sort of catapult me into the thing… much love, sm

  14. I have a 40 minute, very mundane drive to work every day. I get a ton of writing ideas while I’m driving. I see a lot of really interesting people because I drive through a pretty bad part of town. I used to try to jot ideas down while driving on things like McDonald’s receipts that were lying around in the car. That led to a lot of indecipherable notes and some near-accidents. Then hubby got me a digital voice recorder. Much better plan.

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