Write life Saturday: why doing the washing helps with ideas

If you didn’t know already, I also blog at Aussie Owned and Read once a month – commonly I post interviews or writing advice. This time, it was a poll on where you get your writing ideas. If you haven’t voted, do so here. I’d love to know where you get ideas! Today I want to talk about doing the washing. 

Well, okay, not quite. It’s more the fact that doing the washing, or hanging it out, is a really repetitive and boring task. But, at least for me, that leaves my mind to wander. I get a lot of this kind of time in my life. Time when I’m not really doing anything strenuous or that requires much concentration. This includes:

1) Walking. I live close to my city’s centre, so I can walk pretty much everywhere: school, the local plaza, the library, the train station. I don’t listen to music while I walk – I just think. Walking is a great way to let your mind wander, and this is how a lot of my ideas originate.

2) Chores. I mentioned doing the washing before, but there are so many: vacuuming, doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom…if you have to do them, might as well daydream at the same time! (pro tip: if you’re cooking, don’t daydream TOO much. That’s how I ended up getting the electric beaters stuck in my hair. Fun times).

3) Work. Okay, obviously you can’t daydream at every job. But if you’re a teen, like me, and have a part-time job, it’s often repetitive. I’m a waitress at a Thai restaurant, which means a lot of time ferrying food back and forth. All I’ve got to do is make sure I don’t get green curry on anyone (I haven’t YET).

4) Waiting in queues/traffic. Because, unfortunately, this happens a lot.


(who would keep Cookie Monster waiting? That’s just mean)

5) Transport. A lot of my school friends catch buses or trains to school – I used to as well. If you’re not with friends, there’s a lot of downtime for thinking.

6) Driving. I have to admit that I am an awful driver. Most of my concentration is focused on trying to obey the road rules. But when I get onto a freeway and am comfortable doing the same speed for a while, my thoughts eventually wander to whatever story I’m working on at the moment.

I mean, I spend a large chunk of my time on the internet, so that doesn’t help with thinking of ideas. But there’s a lot to like about just doing things without having to really concentrate. When I’m doing repetitive, simple tasks, my brain decides to go all over the place, and starts giving me ALL the ideas. It’s quite nice, but I wish it would work in a more convenient place – for example, when I’m near a computer to write the dratted things down.

What about you? Do you come up with ideas while hanging out the washing? Or when you’re doing other, similar tasks?


15 thoughts on “Write life Saturday: why doing the washing helps with ideas

  1. You’ve forgotten one! there are at least EIGHT HOURS at night when you’re supposed to be sleeping when you can think! Ooookay, argh! I wish my brain had an off switch sometimes though. >_< But seriously, I lie down to sleep and BOOM. Idea festival. I think while I walk, too. But not driving. I'm too busy singing ALL the parts in Disney songs.

    • I DID forget that one! Most of the time I think about school stuff before going to sleep (lame) so that’s probably why. Plus I don’t dream up awesome ideas – get it together, brain! I wish I could sing to Disney songs while I drive. I’d probably cause an accident. Scratch that, I’d DEFINITELY cause an accident.

    • I get a lot of my best ideas while I’m dreaming! And I always use the time while I’m trying to fall asleep to think up what I’m going to write the next day. We need some kind of brain reader that writes stuff down while we think so we don;t have to get up and jot down those awesome ideas. Nothing worse than knowing you had an A+ thought last night but you can’t remember in the morning!

  2. I feel so bad 😦 I’ve been completely awful at commenting on your blog lately and I have no excuse. It started one day and then it just got to the point where I felt awkward about commenting after being gone so often. I’ve still read a lot of your posts though. You wouldn’t believe the number of half written comments I’ve had. And now I leave for Vegas tomorrow, so I can’t even promise better commenting. Or any at all. But when I come back I’ll try my best, as I just love you and your blog too much not too.

    Walking is actually so amazing. When I tell my friends that they give me odd looks like O.o But it truly is wonderful, I just love hiking in particular. You get to see some amazing scenery and feel like you accomplished something when you make it up that huge hill lol. I do get ideas from it, that’s for sure. Omg, my job as a cashier is definitely so repetitive. I just say the same things over and over and do the same things. I feel like a robot sometimes lol 😛 I think about the most random things while doing it.

    • Don’t feel bad! I totally get everyone has lives and don’t necessarily have time to comment here 🙂 it’s lovely enough to think of you reading the posts. Or anyone reading them. Seriously, I am so so grateful that anyone reads my stuff at all 😀

      Walking is great! Not running so much (unless it’s on my own). Something about physical exercise and releasing endorphins or something. My sister’s a cashier so I can imagine how repetitive it is 🙂 as a waitress it can get like that as well, but the people I work with are amazing. Most common phrase I say? Probably “cheque, savings or credit.” SO. MANY. TIMES. Haha, I think up pretty weird things too 🙂

  3. Laundry and driving are my big “thinking” times. Of course, anything that doesn’t require a great deal of attention will work. And no, I don’t consider driving something that doesn’t require attention, but I can still plot and drive! 🙂 Being busy with kids, hubby and life, I have to take advantage of any opportunity to do the mental work of writing before my fingers are resting on the keyboard. I can’t waste that precious time trying to think of what to write.

    • You’re so right about things that don’t require much concentration. When I get better at driving, I’m sure I’ll feel the same! A huge part of writing is what happens before it – the planning just within your mind, churning things over and over (well, for me, anyway). I love that process because it’s the most pure, and anything’s possible 🙂

  4. I actually day dream a lot while I’m “on the way” to somewhere, mostly walking to and from work or public transport. I’m in my own head so much of the time that I shouted out the other day when I got jarred out of my little world when a friend said hi to me lol! Great post Emily!

    • There are a lot of those times in my life as well 🙂 since I only have my L’s I can’t really drive often. That’s happened to me before, lol – I’ve been so scared when people talk to me, only to realise I know them! Haha 🙂

  5. Wow, you actually do a lot of thinking while doing other things. You’re such a great multitasker Emily. The only place I really have a good think is in the shower. I come up with the best ideas there for some reason, maybe because I’m so relaxed. I can’t think deeply when I’m driving, for fear of crashing. I also listen to music when I walk, and at work, I’m always in a rush so barely any thinking gets done. Thanks for sharing this Em! x

    • Haha, I’ve got into a few scrapes because of my “multi-tasking,” which is more focused on daydreaming than anything else 😛 I KNEW I’d forgotten something – the shower! Showers are great for thinking. Getting out of the shower in the COLD is difficult, but while I’m in there all sorts of things occur to me 🙂

  6. I do most of my day dreaming either in the shower or washing the dishes – both things which aren’t the best for grabbing pen and paper and actually writing the ideas down. But I sort out most of my problems when I’m washing my hair or scrubbing the gunk off cereal bowls. I don’t own a dishwasher so I spend a lot of time at the sink just cleaning away. A post which made me think about my thinking…. great idea, Emily!

    • Haha, a bit watery for being able to write them down 😛 sucks that you don’t have a dishwasher, but I guess that would lead to some valuable thinking time. Thinking about thinking is so much fun…even if it does screw around with my brain a bit 🙂

  7. Pingback: What happened this week: stacking the shelves, TFIOS movie and school spirit week | The Loony Teen Writer

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