The other day I was driving through a slush storm having just dropped my kids off at their ballet lessons. The temperature was yo-yoing just around freezing and the sky was dark grey—a heavy mass of clouds that couldn’t make up their minds if they wanted to pelt us with rain or bury us in snow. Hence the slush. I drive this route multiple times a day Monday through Thursday—with 3 kids all training ballet in different classes, age groups and levels several days a week, that a lots of trips to the ballet studio, but I digress. Apart from being “slushed” by two passing trucks, the drive was otherwise uneventful.
What occurred to me though is, that those few minutes multiple times in a week, are my most productive in terms of writing ideas. I invariably put on a playlist and let my imagination loose. Don’t get me wrong – my attention is on the road! But in the back of my head, little bubbles are rising to the surface of my imagination and I see images or snippets of film and a stream of “what if’s”. I carry a small notebook where I can write these little pearls down – when I get to where I’m headed – and trust me I need to write them down or they get lost in the fog of appointments and meetings and “what’s for dinner”.
But why is it that most of my ideas, or the perfect formulation for a sentence that’s been nagging at me, come to me when driving my car? Why not in dreams? Why not when I’m sat here at my desk actually writing? Why not when I should be concentrating in a meeting or when I’m cooking dinner? I wouldn’t call the scenery along the motorway particularly inspiring….
My theory is that, when I drive, my otherwise busy mind gets to relax and “breathe”. So often I’m surrounded by other people and demands on my attention, that the opportunities to be creative are severely limited. Those short intervals of alone time driving my little electrical car are golden! I could rehash a recent argument, mull over something work related, plan the dinners we’re having next week, but instead I find that I tend to gear down (pun intended) and let my mind wander towards my novel. I guess I’m not the type of person that finds driving particularly stressful – especially not on a route I drive so often – and the possibility of calm, unstressed focus allows my creativity to flow. Add in an amazing playlist I created as a “soundtrack” to write by and I’m all set! It’s been great in terms of plotting my novel and seems to work just as well when trying to nail down a section of dialogue or description I’m trying to write! I nearly always come back from a drive feeling energised and inspired and now that I’m consciously aware of how those moments of alone time boost my creativity – I have a great tool I can utilise when an inevitable bout of writers block hits!
Is it just me? Do any of you experience a boost in creativity when driving your car? Are there other situations or places where you feel your creativity flows better than others? I’d love to hear about it!