It’s a cliché, I suppose, but there’s something extraordinary about the timeout that bathing allows. Some of my best writing ideas pop up between shampoo and conditioning.

I don’t go into the shower thinking that I’m going to discover the first line of a song or the name of a new character. But, as I wet my hair and pick up the soap, my scheming, planning, way-finding brain loosens up and gives me exactly what I didn’t know I needed: the word, the verse, the twist, the memory, the ending, the middle.

David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising,” put it this way. “Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.”

I don’t recommend the half pint of claret, but baths and walks (for me) are tried-and-true routes to inspiration.

So, next time you’re stuck or blocked, take a hike or wash your hair. Even if the muse stays away, you’ll have given yourself a well-deserved and rejuvenating break.

Photo Credit: Lubomirkin

I lead writing workshops in the Bay Area, and spend much of my so-called free time writing. To support my avocation (and my family) I sell residential real estate in San Francisco; for more about that visit or