Sunday, January 13, 2008

Housework and the writer

See, here's the dilemma (among all the other dilemmas of the writer's life):

You hate housework. You think it's a waste of time. Well, you know it's a waste of time: you clean the floors, you scrub the sinks, and before anyone ever sees them - because you're a writer, for god's sake, you're far too busy writing to entertain, and you need peace and quiet and no distractions - they're just as dirty again.

Unlike a good day spent writing, a day spent cleaning can add nothing in the end to your sum total of achievements.

But then your home is your workplace, and there's this aspect of your personality, you need your workplace to be in order, and quite frankly, seeing all those crumbs on the kitchen floor, still there from Christmas dinner halfway through January, and all that stuff not yet put away or seen to, the decorations, the laundry, well it's annoying, and in the end distracting. Distracting from writing.

And you can't afford a cleaner, and even if you could, you couldn't stand one in the house because, like I said, you need peace and quiet.

So what to do? Spend a day or two cleaning and lose good writing time, or leave it and risk being so out of sorts you can't write?


Jen HE said...

Publishers have exactly the same issues - ones who work from home anyway, like ME. I don't have THE answer, but I can recommend getting a robot vacuum cleaner - a Roomba - and signing up to FlyLady, who'll take you under her wing and make you get your house in order without busting a gut. Of course, none of this stops everyone else (dog, children and, dare I say, husband) mucking it all up again as soon as your back's turned -- any suggestion on that front would be welcomed!

Elizabeth Baines said...

Hah, Jen, in our house it's the wicked fairy (apparently!) who makes that mess the minute you turn your back again!!!!

adele said...

I reckon Housework every time. Excellent displacement activity during which you can feel quite virtuous and also, if you leave it, things will just get worse. Like this, after two days, you will have a CLEAN HOUSE AND CONSCIENCE....wield your duster with pride!

Elizabeth Baines said...

Yes, well, I think I might have no choice anyway - thinking germs. And mice. And... well, better not think any more and just DO.

Clare said...

I aim to live just above the dysentry level. Anything else is a bonus.

The best thing I have found is making sure that everything has its place; that things you use regularly are easy to get at; and that things you don't want or need are out of the house.

I like the sort of housework that fills your hands and leaves your mind free to wander.

Rachel Fox said...

I find loud inappropriate music helps with the housework when it just won't wait any longer (and I let it wait quite a while - Germaine Greer in 'The Whole Woman' - excellent chapter on household chores).
Yesterday I did some ironing to very loud Led Zeppelin. Now ironing may be the most tiresome and pointless of jobs but with added Robert's something else. To an onlooker I was boring/bored housewife but inside...well, let's just say...teenage years, hard drinking, 'The Song Remains the Same'. In fact today I may well write the poem 'Ironing with Led Zeppelin' ('Whole lotta ironing'? Too cheesey, even for me).
It beats office work anyway.