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Bubble brain

I think the human brain is fascinating. As a writer who wants plot ideas on demand, it can also be frustrating.

Recently I read an article that said our brains don't work as well under stress. (Duh, right?) We can't force the ideas, they're more likely to come when our conscious mind is occupied with other things. Like driving, showering, jogging, walking the dog.

My own–admittedly non-scientific–observation has borne this out. I can stare at the screen for hours and get zip, but tie on my running shoes and within minutes something's likely to bubble up. Good for my story and my hips!

But my brain sends up more than story ideas. While I was walking the dog today, the names of all the blooming flowers kept popping into my head as I glanced at them. I'm not much of a gardener or flower aficionado, but even the names of more obscure plants–that if you'd asked me outright I wouldn't have been able to conjure–bubbled to the surface like air under water.

Now if I could harness that ability, turn on the bubbles whenever I needed them, that would be like gold. I can only take so many showers, run so many miles, and drive around for so long before I have to get back in front of the keyboard and stare at the screen again.

Any thoughts on how to get the bubbles going?

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    This sounds a little crazy (to me, too), but it sounds like you’ve trained your brain to throw ideas at you in these certain circumstances. So can you train your brain to do the same in response to some sort of stimuli?

    Such as, can you always play the same song when you’re walking and getting ideas, or carry around a candle with a specific smell? After a while the song or candle could become associated with the idea state of mind, and you could use it in situations where you want ideas without the walk or shower.

    I know it’s very Pavlov. I have no experience in this sort of behavior training, but if it works for people who DO have experience, it’s worth a try.

    (I’d go with the scent, but it may look odd to carry a candle on your walks.)

    • Reply

      Good idea, Kali. Not crazy. In fact, I think I’ve heard of that before. Now am I disciplined enough to do it?

      I have found that listening to music helps, even though I generally prefer silence. It think it occupies part of my brain and frees things up a little.

      And yeah, probably no candles while walking the dog! ūüėČ

  2. Rylee Leverett


    I agree. My brain works that way. When I’m not thinking about it I can remember the appropriate words and phrases. Just not when I really need them. If I think of anything I’ll let you know! Keep running Gwen!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Rylee. I hear a lot of people talking about how they get ideas when they’re not trying. I’m sure a neuroscientist could tell us more. =)

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