Having difficulty with writing can make one very clean and sleek. Geoffrey Perkins on Douglas Adams:

His other favourite way of putting off writing the next bit is to have a bath. When a deadline is really pressing he can have as many as five baths a day. Consequently, the later the script the cleaner he gets. You can’t fault him for personal hygiene in a crisis.

And Adams himself:

… truthful explanations of how writers get ideas tend to be rather dull:

I sat and stared out of the window for a while, trying to think of a good name for a character. I told myself that, as a reward, I would let myself go and make a Bovril sandwich once I’d thought of it.
I stared out of the window some more and thought that probably what I really needed to help get the creative juices going was to have a Bovril sandwich now, which presented me with a problem I could only successfully resolve by thinking it over in the bath.
An hour, a bath, and three Bovril sandwiches, another bath and a cup of coffee later, I realised that I still hadn’t thought of a good name for a character, and decided that I would try calling him Zaphod Beeblebrox and see if that worked.
I sat and stared out the window for a while, trying to think of something for him to say….

This latter narration, by the way, is the reason why I tend to worry about the use of “I” in nonfictional writing. If you really used “I” to tell us about what you did when you wrote, it would involve a lot of baths and sandwiches and, in the case of historians, economy class tickets to variously scruffy places. But historians using “I” don’t tell us about that. So the historians’ “I” is constructed. And being constructed is just as much an artifice as the omniscient voice. And so what have you gained by saying “I”?

Both quotations from The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts (New York: Harmony, 1985); they’re on pages 8 and 13 respectively.

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