The Connection Between Cleaning and Writing

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]For our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Jamaica.  I clearly remember showing up at his apartment with my two bulging suitcases, stuffed-to-the-gills overnight bag, and the two sweaters I carried over my arms and hearing him say, “No.  Let’s repack you.”  Engineer that he is, he got me down to one suitcase and a half-filled overnight bag.

Over the years, although I am better than I was, this is still pretty much how things go around the house.   Some of my daughters have that same gift for organization.  In the time it takes me to decide just how I am going to clean a room, they have already done two rooms and are moving on to a third.  When we moved to a new house, I was given a small little assignment that took me most of the day and everyone else unpacked the boxes.

It used to greatly upset me that I was the black sheep of cleaning.  However, I am starting to get over it.  By the time I die, I should be okay with it.  I get it done my way.  I need to make a list of every little thing that needs to be done in a room and cross it off as I go.  As I clean, I see or think of others things that need to be done and I add them to the list.   If I don’t have the list, I flounder.

How people write is much like this.  We all do things differently.  Despite the fact that many well-known authors have written books about the writing process, there really is no right way to do it.   If there was, there wouldn’t be so many books written about it.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t read these books.  I am suggesting that you should think about the recommendations the authors make and decide what might work for you.

I recently read an article in which a best-selling author said she writes fast.  She bats out her work for the day in two or three hours and has the rest of the day to do whatever she wants.  Not me.  I become completely absorbed in my writing.  I am watching the story unfold in my head.  I am completely useless for anything else.  I have to schedule large blocks of time to write.  When I hit a snag, I may go for a walk or putter around the house, but I am never far from my computer.  Usually, during my wanderings, I suddenly know what is going to happen next and I rush back to my keyboard and let vision become words.  Unlike cleaning, I don’t need to plan everything out before I write.

I cannot have any type of talking going on around me when I am writing.  I cannot have the television, the radio or the answering machine on.  If my husband is home, this means the television is on.  I have to put earphones on and listen to instrumental music.  If someone decides to interrupt me, he does so at his own risk.  It can get ugly.

What do I do when I am truly stuck?  I take a legal pad and just start writing.  This unlocks my brain.  This is one reason I am so against getting rid of cursive writing in the schools.  I need that connection between hand, pen and paper.  I think others may need it too.  For the most part, I have no trouble writing while sitting at the keyboard.  However, there are times I simply have to use pen and paper.  Afterwards, I sit down and begin to type what I wrote.  Most of the time, what I wrote bears little resemblance to what I wind up typing.  It doesn’t matter.  My mind is open and the story is flowing.

So, feel free to read dozens of books about the writing process, but don’t let them confuse you.  There is no right or wrong way to go about it.  Find what works for you.  Your own method will develop over time.  It will be uniquely yours, and that’s as it should be.  No matter what, just keep writing.  Everything else will fall into place.

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