A Writer’s Water Bill: A Hidden Cost of Doing Business

If you’re dreaming of being a successful writer, you may not be aware of some hidden costs of doing business, such as buying your marvelous editor dinner every week,  subscribing to writing magazines and buying books on the writing craft, sending your fabulous agent gourmet coffee every month, increased coffee consumption for creativity and energy, a whopping Internet bill to help you do the inevitable research and access the latest sales at Nordstrom quickly and efficiently, and having Mr. Cheezzy’s Pizza Mindful Vegan to Go Restaurant on speed dial when multiple deadlines loom.

But you didn’t think about your water bill, did you? If you’re one of those writers who contemplates characters and plots while showering, perhaps you’ve seen an uptick in your water bill when you’re under deadline, or just pondering the prospect of sending your book baby into the world. If so, you’re in good company, as you will see from the water bill Lisa Carter’s husband submitted to her. Seems her most productive writing time coincided with an increase in water usage. Hmmm.

Was it worth it? Take a look at Lisa’s books and see what you think! http://lisacarterauthor.com/

Your turn:

Are you writing a book now?

When do you usually come up with your best ideas?

29 Responses to A Writer’s Water Bill: A Hidden Cost of Doing Business

  1. Avatar
    Shirlee Abbott February 22, 2018 at 3:39 am #

    Thanks for raising this topic, Tamela. I get my best ideas during the two hours I spend daily driving to and from work. Retirement is (hopefully) in my near future, and I will gladly give up those hours on the road. I can’t shower for two hours a day, and I need to find alternate moments of inspiration. I’m eager to learn where other writers work out their best words.

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    Janine Rosche February 22, 2018 at 3:51 am #

    That showering pondering! At ACFW, I stepped into the shower after I quit my aspiring writing career. By the time I got out I had a new story idea!!

    I also love road trips for brainstorming, as long as I can pull into rest area to write ideas down!!

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    Vanessa Burton February 22, 2018 at 6:13 am #

    Hahaha I love this! Especially all the crossed out ones! I usually come up with my best ideas while pacing around! My husband laughs because I’ll rise from where I was seated and begin to walk around and do small thing a like fix pillows, put clothes away, etc. When the idea strikes I go back to my computer and type away!

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    Loretta Eidson February 22, 2018 at 6:16 am #

    Ideas usually hit me when I go to bed at night or while I’m out with friends. A new twist or scene pops into my head so I make a quick note. The most exciting times are when ideas hit me while I’m actually writing and envisioning myself in my heroine’s predicament.

    • Avatar
      Janine Rosche February 22, 2018 at 6:35 am #

      Ever wake up at 3am and you can’t go back to sleep until your character says that perfect line or you finally realize how to describe that one object, action, or feeling?

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    Linda Shenton Matchett February 22, 2018 at 6:31 am #

    I’ll have to check my water bill too! Many of my ideas are dreamed up while I’m doing laundry, lots of laundry.

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    Kimberly Rose Johnson February 22, 2018 at 7:22 am #

    This put a smile on my face today. My most productive writing time is in the morning, and after a cup, Uh-hem, or two of coffee. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Kelly Scott February 22, 2018 at 7:41 am #

    Always when I’m driving home from work and I can’t write anything down. That’s when my characters talk to me or my brain works out a plot issue.

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    Sandra Ardoin February 22, 2018 at 7:50 am #

    Oh my, yes! Showers cure writer’s block. Fortunately, we’re on a well…a deep one.

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    Melissa Henderson February 22, 2018 at 7:54 am #

    My best ideas jump into my mind in the morning. Although, there have been several sleepless nights when a character or story idea jumps in without being asked. 🙂 Yes, I am writing my first Christian romance. Almost finished with the story and so excited about the outcome of the story.

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    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser February 22, 2018 at 8:20 am #

    Interesting! I get my best ideas when feeding the dogs. With a score of the little hungry beasties, there is ample time for thought.

    Which is why, I suppose, one of my characters carries dog biscuits in his pocket for his own consumption, as a kind of hardtack.

    Yes, I did that too. Some kinds don’t taste bad.

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    Martha Whiteman Rogers February 22, 2018 at 8:33 am #

    Looks like several others are like me. I get ideas for dialogue, plot twists and scenes when I falling asleep at night or in the middle of the night when I wake up and can’t go back to sleep. I have to get up and get it down before I forget it all. Happened to me night before last when I was struggling with how to get my “dark” moment into my plot when everything had been sorta rosy until now. The whole thing played out in my head around midnight and I was up until after two getting it all down.

    I’ve had my “shower moments” as well, and have to keep repeating stuff until I can get out and get it written down.

    Don’t forget the hidden expenses of promotion once our books get out there. If you go with indie publishing, you have to add in other costs as well such as a good editor.

  12. Avatar
    Carol Ashby February 22, 2018 at 8:43 am #

    I’ll wake up with a new scene half written. I keep a 3×5 spiral notebook and pen under my pillow and a headlamp on the headboard so I can capture it without waking my husband even if the sun’s not up.

  13. Avatar
    Joey Rudder February 22, 2018 at 9:10 am #

    This is great! But suddenly I’m craving pizza and wanting another cup of coffee. Hmmm. Strange. 🙂

    I’m currently working on ideas for my next book, jotting them down as a rough outline. (But I’m struggling with prioritizing this with my blog, online time/learning and the two new doors God has opened in my life: speaking to two groups of women in May and starting a small group to encourage women. Any advice on balance, staying on track, and keeping organized would be greatly appreciated!!)

    Ideas come when the house is quiet and I’m reading Scripture in the early morning, brushing my teeth, folding laundry, or at night while I’m lying in the dark and my world is still. Sometimes the ideas hit when I’m driving without the radio or if I’m listening to a worship CD I’ve heard a thousand times. The music is comfortable so it doesn’t distract but helps my focus somehow.

    So for me, it seems, the ideas come when things are quiet.

    I wonder if making a gluten-free pizza and a fresh pot of coffee will help the ideas pour in right now? 😉

    Have a blessed day, Tamela!

  14. Avatar
    Mark Stevenson February 22, 2018 at 9:15 am #


    Very funny. I needed the levity this week.

    Our community has been rocked with school violence this school year. Many pastors have been holding special services and on call. Since school year started one district has had six suicides and just this week one elementary young man walked into his school and shot himself in the bathroom. I myself am a minister in our county.

    But as for writing, I am excited about my debut novel. I have been working on it for a little over a year now. I meet with my editor tomorrow to discuss some rewrites and plots. It is based in part on my parents’ lives as Amish, U.S. diplomats with CIA clearance, and pastors. I hope to finish this year.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray February 22, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

      I am so sorry to hear of all this violence, Mark. I am praying for you as you minister to your community, and for those affected.

  15. Avatar
    Lisa Carter February 22, 2018 at 10:50 am #

    The shower works for me most of the time. Otherwise, weather permitting, taking a long walk also sparks my creativity.

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    Norma Brumbaugh February 22, 2018 at 10:58 am #

    It’s so random for me. A new idea will carry me along for a day up to a week. I scribble down related thoughts fast and furious. Sometimes it’s mind blowing how quickly it sprouts, grows, and multiplies. The worst, though, is when a GREAT idea comes to me and I don’t have a pencil or paper with me to jot it down, or I’m driving in heavy traffic … Will I remember it? That is the question. Answer to question . . . If I do, it won’t be as eloquent as the original. But I love those moments of inspiration. Wonderful stuff.

  17. Avatar
    Tisha Martin February 22, 2018 at 11:08 am #

    Tamela, thank you for brightening my morning with your laugh-out-loud post. Water bill, indeed. For me, it’s my electric bill. I stay up late into the night hashing dialogue out loud (does anyone else do that?). The perfect lines come when I don’t have a pen in hand or keyboard under my fingers—and I have to employ the voice-to-text on my phone because for some reason, I’m able to mete out dialogue easier that way. Of all the oddities, for sure. The electric bill comes in when I’m constantly charging my phone due to running it so much. 😉

  18. Avatar
    Natalie Monk February 22, 2018 at 11:23 am #

    Haha! Love it. You made me smile, and I needed that today. 🙂

    My best ideas come to me when I’m falling asleep or when I’m facing a real-life challenge I could translate into fiction.

  19. Avatar
    Amanda Wen February 22, 2018 at 1:47 pm #

    LOL! I love all those crossed-out bits. My increased expenses have included a lot of drinks at my favorite coffee shop (where I write when I can actually leave the house), takeout (because I lost track of time and forgot to start dinner)…and yes, Nordstrom sales. Le sigh.

    But the number one thing that helps when I’m stuck or need an idea is going for a run. Too icy around here to do that right now, which is a bummer, because I could sure use some mental clarity for the WIP! Spring is coming…

  20. Avatar
    Anne Carol February 22, 2018 at 2:10 pm #

    This made me laugh! I was thinking about our gas fireplace. I love sitting in front of it when I write! (And I do believe my husband commented on the gas bill recently).

    Honestly, my best ideas seem to come to me when I’m at my day job. Maybe it’s because it’s quiet here and I have an entire room to myself. In any case, I keep a pad of paper handy for those moments of inspiration!

  21. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D February 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm #

    HI Tamela:
    I am currently finishing a contemporary romance suspense novel set in Annapolis, Maryland. I get my ideas as I run 8.1 miles on my treadmill in the morning.

  22. Avatar
    Meg MacDonald February 22, 2018 at 6:25 pm #

    I can relate to most all of the answers people have listed today. I often find a long walk with the dog is just the ticket. Driving is good for mulling ideas around and around as well. More than once I’ve used my phone to record notes or even just a single line that will jog my memory later. Dangling plot elements often resolve themselves during dreams. But i suppose the thing that I do most, when I’m really stuck, is start typing a running monologue. “Okay, this and this and this has happened. I know that X. I know that Y. Therefore…” and it might go on for a few pages with bits of dialogue and answers to all sorts of questions revealing themselves as I type. Oh, and the stuff you didn’t know you needed to know comes out as well. Oh? Oh! Wow! I didn’t know she did that…

  23. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray February 22, 2018 at 7:34 pm #

    Thank you all so much for your wonderful and insightful comments! I appreciate each and every one.

  24. Avatar
    Claire O'Sullivan February 24, 2018 at 8:04 pm #

    I’m with Janine. Best ideas middle of the night. Insomnia provoking. My bedside table was re-purposed (erg). I kept paper/pen/flashlight there for those ideas, cutting down the sleeplessness.

    I’m sure my ideas would run faster with a pound of M&Ms however, that’s not on my list. No, I don’t want the Jaws of Life prying me from my house through the roof. So, I stick with coffee.

    But now, I am craving pizza.


  25. Avatar
    Emily Conrad February 28, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    Funny! When I’m stuck, getting out for a walk with my dogs helps so much. Getting away from the computer and moving a little lets the idea simmer and the plot (usually what I’m stuck on) tends to fall into place. Great post!

    • Avatar
      Claire O'Sullivan February 28, 2018 at 7:59 pm #

      This too… I should shy far away from the M&Ms concept ….


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    Jennnifer Haynie March 1, 2018 at 10:02 am #


    I had to giggle. First, because I know Lisa and sat under her teaching this past weekend. Second, because I’m guilty as charged. Some of my best ideas come in the shower, and when I was in college, solutions to physics problems always seemed to come in the shower. And third, I’m in the water/sewer industry for my day job. Now I have a renewed reason to keep water/sewer infrastructure in good shape. 🙂

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