Sleight of Mind

Writers find ideas in a lot of different places; the shower, the cafe, a wine glass.

Many ideas pop up in the middle of some mundane chore or oft-repeated task.

Why does this happen?

I believe it’s “sleight of mind” at work.

Sleight of hand is a magician’s tool used to distract the audience’s attention away from the real action of a magic trick.

Sleight of mind applies the same principle to the two sides of your brain. While your worker-bee left side is safely distracted by an activity, the creative right side runs off down hidden alleys kicking up ideas like a kid kicks up mud after a rain.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to shut down the right side.

For me, doing dishes by hand does the trick. Or washing the floor. There’s something about bubbles… I think I’d rather take a bubble bath.

Where did you find your most recent idea?

© Joan Leacott 2012

8 Comments on “Sleight of Mind

  1. I can honestly say I’ve never got a good idea while watching dishes or the floor. LOL (maybe it’s the whining I’m doing) but when I’m going to sleep and when I’m talking to other writers. And with my kid about a book we’ve read….


    • LOL, whining will definitely block ideas. Chatting with other writers is the number one idea source. It’s why I belong to a group that focuses on brainstorming. The best group evah!


  2. My latest ms idea came to me in one of the first writing classes I took, about 8 years ago. The 20-minute in-class assignment was to write a scene in which a character does something that is in contradiction with who they are. I had an image of my character in a sweater set and pearls, and the image, and the idea that sprung from it, never left. I’m excited to finally bring it to life.


    • Ooo, I can think of all sorts of things a gal like that would never do. Everything from doing a Lizzie Borden to getting on the back of a motorcycle. Now I gotta know. What did she do?


    • So true. Cars, buses, trains, bicycles all hide ideas. Especially if you’re not driving! And talk about captive audiences for brainstorming… 😉


  3. Do you really want to know, Joan? I’m often accused by a valued critique buddy who shall remain unnamed [You know who you are, Sherry Isaac.] of chasing shiny baubles.

    That is so not true.

    My latest idea? It came to me from a snort-worthy post on another blog that led to on-line research that led to a quirky trait and scene set-up for a character who needs to play a stronger role in my manuscript.

    For my blog? I was in the library. Small room, limited reading material, most of them magazines. Get it? Good.

    The editor of the only magazine I hadn’t yet devoured wrote his normal piece.

    In this particular article, he cited three things you don’t have to be good at to enjoy. As soon as I confirm I can’t be sued if I quote his words ( if give him and the magazine proper “credit”), I plan to use the sentence pulled from hundreds of others for large, boxed recognition. Why? Because one of those three things he doesn’t have to be “good at to enjoy” is (in top secret code) exsay.


    • Oh, yes, I want to know. 😉 Writers are curious that way. Ain’t it awesome the way one tiny idea start a whole chain reaction! I’d suggest ooking-cay as another thing a person doesn’t have to be good at to enjoy.