*originally posted to Real Simple

Last week on 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy, explains how he’s been exercising something called the Shower Principle, a term that scientists use to describe how the brain generates ideas best when distracted from the task or issue at hand.

As a writer, I’m a big fan of the SP, as I’ll call it…although I confess that I use it to procrastinate as often as I use it for inspiration. For me, however, it’s not showering that loosens the cobwebs, nor do I do my best thinking when I’m in bed. (I think I fall asleep too fast!)

Here are my top two spots for brainstorming, idea generation, and ousting writer’s block:

1. The 2/3 subway train. We’re moving to our new apartment in Brooklyn soon, and have been doing some renovations. This means many, many trips back and forth from our current home on the Upper West Side to the new place, near Prospect Park, so we can check in, oversee, harass and troubleshoot. That’s about 40 minutes each way—to sit and stew, brew and chew over things. The rumble and roll of the subway car sometimes nearly lulls me to sleep, but it can also induce a bit of a productive reverie.

2. Running. There’s nothing like the thwack, thwack, thwack, thwack of your feet hitting the pavement to help loosen the cobwebs. Only problem: I’ve written many, many an intro paragraph or witty kicker on a jog, only to promptly forget it a mere minute or two after I stop running.

Where do you find inspiration strikes you the most?

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