…And no, I’m not a for-hire domestic, despite the details of my housework skills in the Tuesday post. Getting paid, for me, would ruin everything. I’m one of those rare people who actually enjoys a dust mop, especially if I can escape real work. I’ve told friends that getting the home front in shape is actually therapeutic. But the emphasis is on the “home front.” Working your floors is not in the cards.
Nor, for that matter, is getting carried away with it. I do have limits.
Now, as I proceed with this, it’s worth mentioning that the business of writing is forever the problem of finding something to write about, and for me that means thinking about a subject long before I approach the laptop. As often as not, that can entail considerations of some pretty minor stuff. So be forewarned: you are not about to read profound stuff here, at least not today. Then again, no less than Thomas Wolfe was famous for composing countless pages regarding the towels that hung in his bathroom. Slow day, no doubt.
So in this instance I concern myself with the humble business of housework and how it plays into my chosen work; that is to say, it works for me. Not for every writer; probably not even most. But for me it’s a worthwhile component.
The basic value is that it’s mundane; there’s no powerful thinking involved. In addition, there is minor accomplishment: something was disheveled, now it’s well-organized. Sweep it up. And doing that can aid in getting my thoughts organized as well, because there are certainly times when just sitting there at a desk doesn’t move the ideas forward.
Back in my corporate days as a copywriter and speech writer, I followed a similar approach. In the course of an eight-hour day I would almost never sit in front of a computer and simply type from nine to five. More typically, I’d physically write for a half-hour, then get up and walk around and annoy people for 15 to 20 minutes, come back, stare at the words I’d already written, do a little more roaming, and then come back and peck out more words. And so it would go throughout the day, with my final production perhaps a thousand to 1,500 words, and having reached a good stopping point. If a 2,500- to 3,000-word speech was needed in a couple of days I could do that as well, but the pace for most days went pretty much in the former way.
Slow stuff? Not really. On average, writers consider a thousand words a days work, whether working in an office or at home (I shoot for about 600 words in these guys). Hemingway liked to reach about 400 words on a successful day, and he stood at a lectern and wrote longhand while doing it. Most of the process is thinking about what you want to say. There was a cartoon a long time ago wherein a guy is sitting at a typewriter in a back room, while his wife is looking through the door with an impatient expression on her face. The caption — his reply to the look — reads: “Just because I’m not writing does not mean I’m not writing.”
So having something to do as the process moves ahead…helps to move the process ahead. Some writers create amazing salads, some clear brush and some pull on their sneakers and run as the ideas percolate. My preference is to wax hardwood floors…and, as I’ve mentioned, do the occasional window. Just not every day.