Today I am delighted to have fellow children’s writer Rebecca Colby as my guest blogger. Like me, Rebecca finds housekeeping to be a real chore, but also an inspiration. So grab your feather duster and favorite pen and enjoy Rebecca’s thoughts on writing and cleaning. Take it away, Rebecca!
For me, writing is a chore. Like cleaning the house, I don’t enjoy it. It’s hard work, and I can think up plenty of excuses not to do it.
“I don’t know where to begin.”
“I’ll only have to do it again tomorrow.”
And my all-time favourite, “I don’t have enough time to get started now.”
The problem is, I do love a clean house. Or in the case of writing, I love the satisfaction that comes with having written.
The solution came to me this year when I knew I had to tackle my house. The mess had been staring me in the face for months and I couldn’t postpone cleaning any longer. (Yes, you read that right. Months! But breaking my wrist seemed like a good excuse at the time.)
Little-by-little the mess had grown into a chore of immense proportions. I was overwhelmed. However, I had come to the end of the line with my excuses and I had to get started.
I realized it wouldn’t matter if it took months to clean up—as long as progress was made. I made the decision to spend thirty minutes a day cleaning the house. It didn’t sound like a lot but it was all I could spare. The trick was to do it every day!
I broke it down into smaller tasks. One day I would put away DVDs, another day I would file paperwork, another day I would mend clothes. Little-by-little, the mess shrunk. The living room floor reappeared. I moved on to the bedroom, the kitchen and eventually the attic.
That’s when it struck me. Why not do the same with my writing? The act of cleaning my house brought it home to me (literally), how I could tackle the hard work of writing, and how even the smallest amount of progress was just that–progress.
Instead of forcing myself to sit down for five hours to write on a weekend, I would write for thirty minutes every day. Anne Lamott had the right idea in “Bird by Bird.” Break your work down into small, manageable chunks. It all adds up over time.
Having said that, do I still find writing a chore?
Of course, I do! The difference is I don’t let myself spend too much time in any given day doing chores. I spread the workload out.
I know I’ll never stay on top of the chores–at least until I can afford a cleaner. But if like me, you find writing hard work, remember to break it down into smaller tasks. Not only will the writing become less daunting, it will also become less of a chore.
Rebecca is an American expat living in England who primarily writes picture books and poetry. She won the 2011 SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant with her fractured fairy tale MONSTERELLA, and is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her debut picture book, THERE WAS A WEE LASSIE WHO SWALLOWED A MIDGIE, will be published by Floris Books in 2014. A further picture book, IT’S RAINING BATS AND FROGS, will be published by Feiwel and Friends in 2015.