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cleaning house {1/24/13}

Kelley Clink

I'm having one of those angry revising weeks. You know, the kind where I keep poking at the same chapter, and I know how I'm supposed to change it but for whatever reason my mind goes blank every time I open the word doc. And then I start thinking do I even need this stupid chapter? And then, whose freaking idea was it to write this book anyway? And then, WHY AM I DOING THIS WHEN I COULD BE PURSUING A PERFECTLY REASONABLE CAREER AS A BARISTA??? 

I bet there's some practical advice somewhere for getting through these rough patches. Trying to find it would be a great way to procrastinate. Instead, I decided that today I would clean my house.

Cleaning is one of a writer's healthier distractions. Watching TV, surfing the Internet (or "social networking," as I like to call it), and sleeping are a writer's junk food. Reading and blogging are somewhere in between. Like a Subway sandwich.  

Why would I rank cleaning above reading and blogging? Because it has nothing to do with writing. Sometimes you just need to get the hell out of the way and let your subconscious do a little work. Which is hard to do if you're still working on writing, however tangentially. But cleaning, ahhh cleaning. Anne Lamott calls it "monk-work." It puts you in the present moment and forces you to shift your focus on the external. You have to look at the floor in front of you if you want to do a halfway decent job vacuuming. You can't really zone out while washing or putting away dishes.

There's another benefit to cleaning: ordering your environment tends to help you order your mind. If I'm able to sort, clear out, and throw away all the junk on my kitchen table, I'm setting myself up for sorting the jumble of my thoughts.

So now that I've brought a little order to my home, I'm going to see if I've cleaned out any of the dust bunnies in my brain. And if I haven't, hey, at least the vacuuming is done.

UPDATE: I got some editing done on my chapter today without wanting to throw my laptop out the window. I deem this a raging success. Big fat plus sign in the cleaning column.

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