There Are Characters In My Tub by Livia Quinn
We’re not talking an antique clawfoot or large oval with jets or even a Jacuzzi. No, just picture a 30-year-old fiberglass tub and shower combo, or not. I always assume they’re here for me because I tell stories and they have stories to tell. What did they do in there before I started inviting them to share??? Well that’s a whole different rabbit hole…
Writers have a saying. BICHOK. That stands for “butt in chair hands-on keyboard”. Since I would never carry my Mac to the tub, this translates to “butt in water, right hand on pen and paper”. Hmm, that would make it BIWHOPP. Anyway, the theory behind BICHOK or BIWHOPP is that writing is hard. Really hard. That’s not to mean it’s not fun but sometimes getting started can be excruciating. The joy comes after you managed to pull a scene or even a paragraph out of that dark hole. Meeting that challenge.
BICHOK is a reminder that this grunt work, the intention to put words on paper every day is first met with the determination and discipline to park it somewhere and wait for the magic to happen, or as most writers will tell you to stir the cauldron and make the magic show up.
I discovered one winter when as usual it’s as cold inside as it is outside in my house, that I could warm up by taking one of my favorite things – a long soaking bath (you may be the shower type so unless you have one of those waterproof whiteboard thingies and you can write fast because before long you be writing under a frigid spray, try the tub)
September 2014 was the first time I realized how well this method worked. See, I’m a pantser. This means I sit down and I write – no outlining, no scheming, no plot points. I have managed to work out a type of story structure process that I use after I get into the story at chapter 2 and can think my way through to the end. So, that year, I decided to let my process off its leash. As I slipped into the tub to write the scene where my hero of Too Good to Be True tells the heroine about his family, his background began to unfold. By the end of bath time I exited the bathroom in wonder. I’d written five letter sized pages of background regarding his military family. Luc said he was the youngest of six siblings (five females) raised by his stay at home dad while his mother joined the Navy and had a twenty-five year career. It was one of those epiphanies and has been key to the entire series. And I had not one inkling of it beforehand.
I can always count on my characters showing up in the bathroom. Before my, um, backside hits the water, they’re talking and I’m trying to catch up.
Okay, I’m crazy. But whatever…I stood my ground in November when our hot water heater went out. We still haven’t figured out its problem but I’m only willing to deal with the idiosyncrasies as long as I get my hot bath every day. I’ve already located a new water heater for when the guys give up on this one. It’s that important to my writing process.
On my eighteen hour drive home from DC, I listened to an RWA chat with Nora Roberts. She said one of her die-hard rules is to write at least one hour a day. Do the math — one bath equals 900 to 1500 words a day. In thirty days, that’s around 40,000 words just in the tub. But usually once the water is cold the ideas are still flowing so I try to finish off at 2 to 3000 a day. That’s a novel in a month. Or as Nora suggests, 365,000 words a year. That equals those books you’ve been putting off. The words add up.
I only mention my other favorite writing space – writing while driving – because I flipped my car last year. I wasn’t writing but I might have been. I’ve done it before. So, consider this a public service announcement — if you have ideas on the road about anything, don’t be stupid. Learn to use a tape recorder. I had to learn the hard way. Tubs are safer.
Do you have an unorthodox solution to a common problem either in life or as a writer? Tell us about it.