Monday, April 8, 2013

How To Write While Cleaning Your House

Guest Post by Julie Duffy, @storyadaymay

The sad truth is that the role of 'writer' does not come with staff. Even full-time professional writers, for the most part, are not issued with a full-time assistant. Most writers still have to shop for food, clean the bathrooms and tidy up after ourselves.

But never again should your domestic chores become a reason not to write. WU brings you the Essential Guide to Writing While Cleaning Your House.

(Brain)storming The Castle

As any of you who have ever taken a shower will know, our best ideas are often accompanied by the sounds of running water and the smell of soap. Surely it might work just as well if you are scrubbing the shower rather than yourself?

So turn off the TV, mute the radio (or set it to soundtracks or classical, or your writing music of choice) and start thinking about your characters while you scrub.

How To Write While Doing Something Else

Now, granted, you're probably not going to do a lot of actual typing or writing while you're wrestling sheets off the bed, or scrubbing under the u-bend. But there are ways of working when you're not at your desk.

You can plan scenes, dream up plot points or even carry a voice recorder with you to capture ideas and passages of prose (this works rather better well when there is no-one else in your house at the time who'll pop their head in and say, "What? Were you talking to me?")

Link Your Scenes To Certain Jobs

Breaking down a big job into smaller tasks stops you becoming overwhelmed and happily, this works for cleaning and storytelling. You have a list of scenes to write and you have a list of rooms to clean. Make these two things work for you, by assigning different scenes to different rooms.

When choosing what to work on in each room, consider the setting. Use the different rooms to enhance your writing:

*Cleaning the kitchen? Work on a sensual scene, maybe a dinner or a scene where your hero and heroine trap, skin, gut and cook a small defenseless creature. Mmmm, carnal! 
*Kid's bedroom? Think about your teenage character's next big scene while you're fording the sea of discarded clothes in your own child's room to reclaim your best earrings from the heap of gewgaws beside her bed.
*Your bedroom? The ideal opportunity to work on the big romantic, er, climax. Or not...
*Folding laundry? Perfect! This repetitive, mechanical task is ideal for letting your mind take a flight of fancy. Plan your big turning points now. Run through a critical piece of dialogue. Audition daring new ideas in the safety of a fluffy, fragrant folding-spree.
*Bathroom? Definitely time to work on your villain!

Mine Your Own Emotions

Everything we write is colored by our own experiences and the little details are often the ones that bring our characters to life for a reader.So pay attention as you bend and stretch and scrub and fold, to how you are moving.

What do you do when your back aches? Would your character move the same way?

How do you feel when faced with a mountain of unwashed dishes --- again? That's how your hero feels at the 'all is lost' point just before the climax.

Are you disgusted by the bathroom floor? Great! Notice what you do, how your facial muscles contort, and how your stomach feels, then use it all when your heroine encounters the villain at his most dastardly.

Live To Write

We all like to imagine how life would be if we had Neil Gaiman's writing gazebo in the woods and a fleet of assistants to shop and fetch and clean for us. But in the meantime, lets turn our formidable creative powers to the task of turning household chores into the raw material of great writing.

If we can do that, surely there's no creative problem that can defeat us!

Julie Duffy is a writer and the host of StoryADay May, a creativity challenge and community at . She is also the author of the StoryADay Guide To Breaking Writers' Block