pro tips

Patti Smith Abhors Shower Thoughts

Photo: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

In interviews, travel guide of the creative spirit Patti Smith always seems to dole out permissive and helpful suggestions for making art. In a recent conversation in the Chicago Reader, she gives kindly praise to being creative wherever and whenever one pleases. For example, one can be creative in the morning, or at a desk, or in crossing state borders. That is, anywhere except for the shower; anytime except for shower time.

Smith says she avoids the oft-praised tendency to think of ideas in the shower as unpractical and particularly ill-suited to a notebook. She explains: 

I might write in a train or in a cafe in the morning or sit at a desk or while I’m going to the bathroom, I might have an idea, and I need to write it. I have notebooks and pencils all over the place because I suddenly have an idea and I need a pen and a piece of paper. My pockets are filled with hotel stationery because I didn’t have a notebook or I had to use a napkin … I can’t write in the shower. I just try to use the shower as a good place to practice singing. I know it’s a cliche, but the sound with water and the echo in the shower is very, very good, and it’s a good place to practice scales. I like to pretend I’m an opera singer and sing things I wouldn’t normally let people hear that I’m singing. But I try not to get ideas for writing in the shower because if I do they’re almost always forgotten.

It’s not a place without imagination. One can be an opera singer stuck in an indoor rainstorm, for instance. But that should be where it ends.

Patti Smith Abhors Shower Thoughts