Are you a scrubber or a soaker?

B. Morey Stockwell, PhD
3 min readDec 10, 2020

Kick Start Thursdays, December 10, 2020

Are you a soaker or a scrubber?

You know what I mean, right?

That nasty pot that stayed on the burner too long. The heat too high. The stew was all right. Just a tiny tinge or burnt essence. Call it ‘blackened’ and people will pay extra for it.

But your family won’t. They ate it though. They’re pretty forgiving.

The family prefers simple, plain food.

And NOW you’ve got to clean that pot OR throw it out. But it’s part of a set. And there’s really nothing wrong with.. except a quarter inch of stubborn, brown crust fused to the bottom and up the sides.

You set the pot in the sink and you take out the blue sponge with the scrubber attached to it. You pour out some liquid dish-washing soap (may I recommend Dawn? It’s good for ducks, too.) and you scrub.

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

The mess is tough.

It resists.

The brown crust sticks and holds almost miraculously to the smooth metal bottom.

What kind of chemical bond did you create with tonight’s meal?

You grab a spoon. Then a knife. You whack and hack.

Nothing. The burnt mass mocks you.

But you persist.

Gotta get the dinner dishes washed and put away before you sit down to watch the evening shows. (Does anyone do that anymore? We are no longer dictated by the networks. We can program our own evening — whenever we want. But that’s a topic for another day.)

Pour out the sullied water and start again.

More soap.

More water.

More elbow grease.

That’s all it takes, right?


Sometimes, you need to wait.

Sometimes, you need to let things soak.

Fill the pot with hot water and maybe some soap and put it aside. Let the water do the work for you.


The same is true for many creative endeavors.

Yes, we need to work and work hard.

But sometimes, we also need to take a step back and let the ideas soak. Simmer. And then, the caked on crust of tonight’s overcooked stew will lift gently away revealing the smooth, strong surface underneath.

Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash

While the thing soaks, go do something else. Take a bubble bath. Read a chapter in that book you got for your birthday last year from your best friend. Make a cup of tea.

Breathe. In. Out. Slow down.


When scrubbing fails, be a soaker.



B. Morey Stockwell, PhD

I’m a writer who writes about writing… and other topics that bring me joy. Find tips and strategies to enhance your creativity at