The Most Difficult Thing in the World–in the Shower

Idea Lizard with Vacuum Hose

Recently, I got inspired when Becca talked about what really happens in the shower.

Before you all click through en masse to find out the details, I’ll tell you the gist of what Becca was getting at: the power of verbalizing ideas and the precious instances in which we get those ideas.


For Becca, those instances happen to take place in the shower. As I left a comment on her post, I pondered my own sources for artistic ideas.

Many of you, my most darlingest readers, heard me talk last Thursday about one of those sources: my dreams. (That was my first ever video blog post, and many of you lovelies let me know how much you enjoyed it! Thanks again — and yes, I do intend to repeat the trick. What I won’t do for you people… 😉 )

So, Becca revealed that what really goes on in the shower is thinking. In my reply to her post, I wrote the following:

My thinking time happens whenever I just let my mind wander. Like a kid, it comes back to me with its hands and pockets stuffed full of all sorts of oddities. This usually happens when I’m doing housework. The more mindless and repetitive the activity, the more likely I am to turn around and find my artist-child brain holding up a lizard or something for me to coo over.


Were this Twitter, and were I tweeting, I would now employ the most handy hashtag #outingmyself. There you have it, folks. I might be 34 years old, but inside, my mind is really just a big kid.

My mind loafs around, skipping merrily down darkened alleys and picking up things that probably shouldn’t be touched. I’ll be doing housework — vacuuming the floors, let’s say — and suddenly, I have this idea that a certain demon (Dante) in a certain story I’m working on (Colors of Deception) should have an obsession with the music of a certain rock band (INXS).


I’m shoving the vacuum across the carpet with all the elegance of a Valkyrie in platform shoes, and my artist-child brain dances up and shoves my antagonist’s main quirk in my face. “Look!” says the artist-child. “Look at this! Have you ever seen anything like this before? What is it?” And the most important question:

“What can we do with it?”

Greed and Goethe

What, indeed? In the case of this particular idea, what I did was drop the vacuum, grab some paper, and scribble down the idea. I’d been thinking, but I hadn’t been thinking consciously. I knew that such ideas originate in the vast depths of the subconscious, and as easily as they emerge from the murk, they can just as easily sink back into it. I needed to preserve my idea as quickly as possible, so that I could come back to it later on.

The artist-child loves to share her discoveries — but she can be a greedy little hoarder, too. She doesn’t trust me to take proper care of her lizard; she wants to stick him back into her pocket for safekeeping. She’ll take the lizard back from me if she can — meaning, if I don’t record my idea, I will forget it.

When I write down an idea in my scribblebook, it’s like sticking the lizard in a jar until I can put him into an environment where he can thrive.

Putting the idea into a story, that’s like letting the lizard loose in a huge terrarium made just for him, where he can run and play and laze around and just be what he was meant to be.

“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe knew it’s not easy, building a terrarium to house all those scampering little idea lizards.

My artist-child mind brings ’em to me while I’m stuck doing the most mundane activities. But I guess it’s kind of a fair trade, considering how much I love playing with that terrarium.

And once the idea lizards are free to be themselves within their new home (i.e. within my stories), my inner artist-child concedes that keeping them cooped up in her pockets wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun, after all.


And you? Where and when do you do your best thinking?

Does your mind hand you ideas you’d rather not touch too often?

What do you do with those?

What’s your lizard?

4 thoughts on “The Most Difficult Thing in the World–in the Shower

  1. I love the analogy. I had wondered whether or not the “lizard” in your reply was significant.

    Thanks for the *tag*! I’ll have to get some post material from your blog now. 🙂 I like when our posts are like a tennis match, that ball bouncing around from one to the other. 🙂

    • Becca, to be honest, that lizard wasn’t significant until I realized that I could expand my brief thought into an entire blog post. And then my brain just ran with it, as it so often does with such things. ; )

      And yes, indeed — tag, you’re it! (By the way, Josh U. has an idea about all of our blogs “cross-pollinating” with each other. I like it a lot.)

  2. Dean Carlton says:

    My best thinking?

    On the whole, ideas come to me anywhere and everywhere, though the bathroom figures very highly – even if I am just replenishing the stores after shopping! Also, I drive a lot on business – hours of silence, no music, just my thoughts….

    My mind seems to work in ‘associative-tangents’ – you say something, it reminds me of a song/film/book (watch it, I often sing/quote it back at you!) – before ricocheting off in another direction to spark a new idea. That applies for ‘creative’ projects as well as business projects.

    Perhaps the association part is a simple reflection of the relatively small vocabularies that we use on a daily basis, coupled with the constant media barrage that repeats and instills lyrics, adverts etc into our brains, ready to pop out at a moments notice.

    The tangential part? That’s just kooky old me!

    Does your mind hand me ideas I’d rather not touch too often? I’m probably just like any other average male in that respect – ’nuff said!

    What’s your lizard? Other people, without a doubt – a tangent needs to be struck out from a particular point, after all.

    • LOL, what is it about the bathroom that so many of us find so inspiring? Dean, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think my mind works in those “associative tangents,” too: I hear a snippet of conversation or see how the sunlight falls through leaves and makes a mottle pattern on the ground — and suddenly, I’m writing a story from start to finish in my head. In the space of about 10 seconds.

      And then I go frantically grabbing for my scribblebook before it all goes away again.

      And you’re right: Average males and ideas are often not a shareable combination. ;-D

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