Where is it, and in what kind of scenario, do you find yourself 'riffing' the best?
This is the part where I should probably explain what ‘riffing’ actually is. For me, it is the process of creating ideas; either as part of my current WIP, or in general for ideas for future novels and works. Annoyingly, it most commonly occurs when I am in the shower with no easy access to something to write down the ideas on. But this is not such a bad thing, as I will explain below.
I find myself riffing best when I am in the shower. Perhaps it is because it is a short amount of time I get where I am alone with nothing but my own thoughts. I have a very busy career and family life, and then I have to squeeze in hobbies, pursuits and writing (somehow) as well. It is when my arms are instinctively going through the same washing ritual that they have been engaging in for years, and my brain is largely switched off to the actual act of applying shampoo to my hair, that I find myself riffing the best. My brain is not thinking about what I am doing. Instead, my brain is simply thinking - and it is often thinking creatively, and I end up forming some of my best ideas when stood starkers in a glass enclosure with hot water raining down upon me.
Apologies for any unintended picture I have just painted there…
Anyway, I have a note on my iPhone that I use to write all my ideas down, and they eventually get transferred to my office computer. If I can remember the grade-A sauce I summoned whilst taking care of my personal hygiene, I can write it down.
I should probably explain why I call my process ‘riffing’ in the sense of writing as well. As a musician for many years, I have been ‘riffing’ for a long time - i.e. writing material on my own or with other musicians I have been in bands with. Someone strums a chord or plays out a piece of lead and, if it gets the juices flowing enough, you start working on and around it. Eventually, one riff could be the intro or a chorus of an entire song that is then written around the foundations of the original riff.
Writing, I find, is the same. I think of a simple core idea, and I can then work around it. I find that it is times of natural solace when ideas come best. Sitting down and trying to purposely think up ideas can be hard, and it is not a natural process. I find this is the wrong way to come up with the best ideas, and it is usually better for them to form naturally - sometimes, completely at random. It could be from your brain engaging during times of solace in the shower, or something you see or hear that triggers an idea at a random moment.
I apologise, this is one of those articles that really is quite nonsensical when you think about it. I have basically just told you that I think of good ideas in the shower, so what is the point of me telling you this? Well, I guess one good takeaway could be in the majesty of forming ideas off the cuff and when you least expect it. I always say that writers should never force their work, as forcing it and trying too hard can lead to poor quality results. I find that things happen best when they form naturally so, maybe, try it yourself. Perhaps you are enduring a phase of writer’s block, or you are struggling to get the juices flowing for a story or an idea. Try to let it go and let things happen naturally.
Maybe it will help.
(p.s. I make no apologies for including my favourite joke in the image. I regret nothing... literally, nothing at all. Zero. Nada. Zilch.)
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