House cleaning is a useful activity for writers.

The amount of house cleaning a writer does depends on a number of factors:

  • Stage of WIP. If the writer is in that euphoric writing stage (up to the first 5k words for most of us) house cleaning will be de-prioritised. On the other hand if the writer is knee deep and wading through the mid novel swamp then house cleaning will happen. If the writer hates their WIP (can happen at any stage) or just wants to avoid it (again this can happen at ANY stage) then house cleaning is guaranteed.
  • Twitter. If Twitter is down it is more than likely the writer’s house / flat / room will get cleaned.
  • Deadlines. If the writer is in a sweaty, deadline-induced panic then the state of the house will be ignored until the writer has met their deadline and spent a few days recovering.
  • Procrastination levels. When experiecing high levels of procrastination a writer can spot two books out of place from across the room, a spec of dust on a bookshelf and a spice rack which urgently needs a new colour code system.

If you are looking to adopt the writer’s approach to house cleaning then please follow these top tips:

  1. Your creativity levels will need to be reflected through your choice of cleaning clothes. Wild and wacky cleaning outfits might not seem appropriate to non-writers but to a writer they are a reflection of how imaginative they are feeling. A writer will struggle to turn off their creative mind even when they are cleaning a house. So make sure your cleaning outfit is thought provoking, vibrant and creative.
  2. Writers like to obsess over stuff like first chapters, names for characters and annoying paragraphs which never sound right regardless of how many times you revise them. This will need to come through in your cleaning routine. Spend ages scrubbing the hell out of one tiny object and refuse to put it down all day.
  3. Writers can get bored easily with their creative work and the same applies to house cleaning. Make sure you combine house cleaning with episodes of staring out of the window, lying down when no one is watching and regular surveillance of Twitter.
  4. Under the guise of ‘house cleaning’ rearrange bookshelves to make room for those extra books on order which your loved one doesn’t know about (as they think you have far too many books as it is) and never will know about them as when your extra books are delivered they will magically fill up the new gaps on your shelves.
  5. Also under the guise of ‘house cleaning’ keep an eye out for potential places for new bookshelves or book cases. Writers can never have enough books.
  6. This is important: adopt a writer house cleaning style according to your chosen genre:
    • Historical fiction. Ideally you want to rise before the birds wake up. The entire house and everything inside it needs to be scrubbed. Take all your rugs outside, beat them a lot, sweep floors and then scrub them…twice a day. Make sure you aim for hours of back-breaking cleaning chores.
    • Thriller / Crime Fiction. Move in mysterious ways around the house and keep looking over your shoulder a lot. Whilst dusting your extensive collection of books on serial killers, with an ear to ear smile, think up new and unqiue ways for murder methods and shocking twists. Kidnap the hoover and leave a ransom note plus a trail of complicated clues for your loved ones.
    • Science Fiction. Make science integral to your cleaning methods. Whilst cleaning think about parallel universes, black holes, technology, supernatural events and in the middle of house cleaning…disappear.
    • Romantic Fiction. Float around the house whilst caressing and stroking the furniture. Twirl around the living room with your duster imagining you and your fictional crush are dancing at a lavish ball. Make sure you dust, polish and rearrange your bookshelves according to the intensity of the romance.
  7. When the house cleaning gets too much for you (after a good half hour for most of us) either run back to your WIP or curl up on the sofa for a quick nap.

Happy cleaning to all those writers out there.

10 comments on “How To Clean a House Like a Writer #AmWriting

  1. This made me giggle!

  2. I am very confused now, after reading your hilarious post, Lucy, for I was under the impression that writers were exempt from housework. At least that’s what my family understand!

  3. Lindsey Russell

    No need to kidnap my hoover – I’ve forgotten where I left it 🙂

  4. I’m disappointed that after reading this delightful article, I still have no desire to clean my house. I’m much more likely to find myself in the kitchen, preparing various dishes, salads, my own special garnishes, anything I can make in advance, so when I’m finally on a roll with my writing I don’t have to set it all aside for two hours while I cook, serve, eat, and clean up dinner.
    There was one time my disdain for cleaning came in handy and turned into one of my most popular blog posts:

    On Being Transparent

  5. That is so true!

    BTW: If you’re still looking for the sequel to “Sleepless in Seattle” it’s probably going to be called “Sleepless in a Seattle Nursing Home.”

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