The Power of the Spoken Word (or The One Where I Reveal What Really Happens in the Shower)

I love new ideas. When one hits me, I might spend days (or weeks) chewing on that nugget (much like the girl on Willy Wonka who set the world record for chewing a single piece of gum the longest). It takes a while to get all the flavors out…to taste what that single idea might hold. But ideas have to develop, to grow into a fully formed plan. Story ideas have to solidify into plot and characters and detailed schematics.

Shower Time

Thinking time is critical to shape these ideas into something more than a dull lump. Writers get their thinking done at different times. Last week Tosca Lee mentioned how she gets most of her ideas while driving. A few lucky individuals have time to hole themselves away solely for thinking, undisturbed by outside influences. But me? Well, I’ve come to find that my most productive thinking time is in the shower. (Weird? Okay, maybe. But at least I didn’t say “on the john.”) Whether there’s something magical about the lather of soap and pounding water or whether it’s just a result of the mindless task of tending to personal hygiene, I can’t say. But I do know that my shower time is highly beneficial to my creative thought process when it comes to writing.

The Power of Words

So the idea’s there. It’s been sculpted and somewhat developed. But sometimes thinking time isn’t enough. Sometimes there are still dark spots that remain undefined – holes in the plot. I don’t know if it’s true for every writer, but I know that for myself I often can’t carve the fine details within my own mind, no matter how hard I try. Maybe it’s because I’m an extravert or maybe it’s because due to some other personal hurdle. But every time I’ve had “writer’s block” or been stuck in a plot hole, I’ve been saved by one simple thing: talking it out.

Genesis 1:3 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be light.’” When God created the universe, why did He bother to speak aloud? And for whose benefit? He could have just created without speaking, right? And once He’d created, Genesis 1:5 says, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.”



These words denote verbalization. Why? Because there’s something powerful about the spoken word.

Talk It Out

We may not be gods, but we are created in His image, and we create by His example. I’m not saying you have to speak to your project: “Let there be Plot. Let there be Characters. And Story Arc, I proclaim thee, good.” (Although, by all means, feel free to talk to your novel, if you must – you won’t be the first frustrated writer to do so.) What I am saying is that I’ve found tangible benefits from having an audible conversation about creative dilemmas (and it doesn’t just apply to writing).

I might be stuck on a story problem for days…weeks…searching my brain for a solution that is frustratingly elusive. But if I get the chance to discuss the issue with a friend, nine times out of ten I stumble upon the solution within the hour. It’s worked time and time again.

The moral of the story is to talk it out. Get a fellow writer, a friend, a random commuter on the bus – anyone who will listen. If you can’t find anyone, try talking out loud to yourself. (Okay, so I’m pretty sure if there’s one post that will get me labeled “crazy,” this is the one…) I admit it. I’ve done it. And it works. There’s something about giving yourself the freedom to verbalize what you’re thinking…and listening to your own thoughts.

What do you think? Who else out there will openly admit to talking to yourself? Or at least needing to verbalize your creative problems? And what about all the introverts? Does talking jumpstart your creativity?

4 thoughts on “The Power of the Spoken Word (or The One Where I Reveal What Really Happens in the Shower)

  • Let there be Plot! Ha! I love it. I also love the connection you make between God’s creative action and his spoken word. Like you say, ideas need time to develop and grow…I might need to let this one sit awhile, too. There’s a lot in that concept of power connected to the spoken word.

    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 or me to coo over.

    Hey, I think there’s a blog post in there, somewhere. 😉

  • Let there be plot–if only it were that easy…
    I would suggest talking it out to pets, so that you sound less crazy than talking to yourself, but I’ve found that my pets are rarely helpful. In fact, they care more about getting in the way than listening to my concerns. So there goes that idea!
    In all reality, though, most of my best ideas get worked out while working on something totally unrelated. Just this morning I was writing the beginning of my story and had a great idea for an ending plot twist (okay, so not totally unrelated). But, like Courtney, it’s when I’m least expecting it.

    • Ah, if only I had pets to bother with my story problems…

      Actually, I do often get ideas for one part of the story when I’m working on a totally different part. And I’m so pleased when that happens.

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