I have most of my light bulb moments when I’m doing something mind numbingly boring like hoovering or washing my hair. I mean seriously, washing my hair!? It’s amazing how many of my plot-hole dilemmas have been solved in the shower. In fact, I think it should now be obligatory for books about writing to include the tip: when you’re stuck, go take a shower.I have an ongoing joke with my boyfriend about how much (or how little) work I actually do. He’ll come home after a gruelling day decorating to find me sitting on the sofa, staring into apparent nothingness with a pad and pen in my hand.
“What are you doing?” he’ll ask. “I thought you had a deadline?”
“I do,”I’ll reply, with the slightest smile. “And I’m working hard on it.” To which, he’ll usually just roll his eyes.
The same goes for anything else. When I’m watching a film, him: “What are you doing?” Me: “Working.”When I’m about to take a nap, him: “What are you doing?” Me:“Working.”OK, so we laugh about it but it’s sort of true. A creative mind never stops, no matter what we’re doing. I had the idea for my first published novel, The Nightmare Factory, in a dream, and my second came to me whilst taking my dog for a walk, and the one I’m writing now whilst driving my car. I’m constantly thinking about how things relate to my book. How I can make it better, what I can do to make the characters stronger. Even when I’m reading a newspaper or watching a film, my brain is still quietly sewing ideas together as it draws threads of inspiration from even the most insignificant of things. Sometimes, a writers job is not to write but to just step away from the computer and lose themselves in everyday activities, because ask any creative person, this is when the best ideas will surface.
Don’t get me wrong, we still have to put in the hours sitting at the laptop and trying to make sense of all this wonderful inspiration, somehow piecing it together into something that resembles a book. But occasionally it’s OK to just step away for a bit and dwell on the novel whilst doing something completely different. I like to think of it as constantly having a song playing in the back of my mind. One that I just can’t get out of my head. Sometimes I focus on it more than others and pick apart every lyric, and other times I just listen to the tune. But it’s always there. It never goes away, until one day, I set it free, ready to be heard by everyone.