Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wisdom on Wednesdays: The Shower Reflex

No, I'm not going there. That's a whole other blog, folks. Trust me, this is a writing thing!

When I was at the SCBWI Writers' Retreat and Conference in Niagara Falls the other weekend, I had the enormous privilege of attending a workshop by Terri Farley, author of the Phantom Stallion series and the new YA novel, SEVEN TEARS INTO THE SEA (which is about, among other things, the legend of Selkies, magical creatures who can shed their sealskins to take human form, so I am super-excited to have a copy of this book!).

And I'm not going to blow the whole workshop; that would be unfair to Terri, and I'd do you a disservice, because I could never sum up all that Terri covered in one blog post. But there was one thing that I often do anyway, so I feel okay about sharing this one tip.

Terri called it "The Shower Reflex."

You know, that moment when you think you're done, and then you go get involved in something else (like taking a shower, or doing yard work) and your muse shows up and goes, "Hey, this is what you should have done in that scene!"

For me, this moment usually comes after I've submitted my manuscript. Which is obviously not ideal.

So, my wisdom for today is not to wait until the last minute to make those revisions. To make them a week (or five) before you need to have them done. Give yourself time for the Shower Reflex. Pretend you've submitted it. Really let go of it. Then go take a shower.

Do you make last-minute revisions like me and then live to regret it? Or do you give yourself time to subconsciously reflect before submitting?


  1. Ha! I love this. It's so true. I *think* I'm to the point of not begin able to see any more tweaks to make in my MS. So, I've started querying...*fingers crossed*

  2. I have regretted it before. Now I know to walk away and not submit until my kids are asleep. Showers work every time!

  3. Great advice. I know a book can never be done, but you do have to wait to try to be sure it is.

  4. I am no stranger to the shower reflex! I think some of my best ideas come to me in the shower. :)

  5. So many great ideas and scenes come to me while in the shower! What is that?? Lol! Sometimes I can't get out of there fast enough in fear of losing my muse. ;)

  6. great idea! my aha moments happen in the shower, and while I'm driving. basically, anytime I have time to think without distraction. I will definitely give myself some time after finishing this next ms.

  7. Great advice. I find myself restarting revisions/edits every day I open that save file. It helps get me back into the piece and find errors I missed the day before. Less, shower effect than a waking effect.

  8. How funny, that is exactly what I am experimenting with right now. I have sent at least one ms out and then thought it was rubbish, so I have a couple of mss marinating now even though I know they are done. (Not the same as procrastination oh no! :)

  9. Amanda, I know what you mean! Why is it that we get our best ideas when we aren't able to write anything down?

    PW, I like your "waking effect." I get a lot out of my dreams, actually.

    And Terri Farley is BRILLIANT, guys. If you get a chance to attend one of her workshops, be sure to do it.