How to Be a Better Writer: Clean the House

How to Be a Better Writer: Clean the House — Write RightSome days, the writing life requires you to sit in the chair. Other days, the writing life ejects you from it. The words won’t come, no matter how long you stare at the screen or flip through ideas written on a Post-It or stored in Evernote.

Rather than sit there mindlessly, clean the house. If you don’t have a house, clean the apartment, bedroom, or office. Cleaning not your thing? Seek out another chore. Wash the car. Mow the lawn. Iron the pile of shirts threatening to become a wrinkle-dog in the washroom. Do something, preferably a chore with a fixed outcome. Walks are all well and good, but you sometimes need to work out the frustration of a blank screen on a marred mirror (or wrinkled shirt).

Words sometimes visit you in the midst of accomplishing another goal. Sometimes they don’t. Regardless, you end up further ahead than you would staring at the empty screen or scrolling through Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. Get away from the screens and get your hands dirty. Do some menial labor.

If nothing else, you’ll feel better about yourself. The house (apartment, office, et cetera) smells of lemon. Your car glistens in the sunlight. (Forget the meteorologist’s prediction of a twenty percent chance of afternoon showers.) The lawn edges neatly against the curb. The shirts hang — with precision — on the hangers.

See, don’t you feel better already? Take a break; depart the screen. Really, it’s okay to not have any words at the moment. Every writer reaches that point. If he or she says, “No, I don’t,” scoff at the lie and walk off. Now, get away from the menacing screen and cursor. Do something. Be the better writer and clean the house. Take your accomplishment, your victory, back to the screen and show the cursor who’s boss.

Image: Dave Crosby (Creative Commons)

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