Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Beetling Along

Photo by Andi Gentsch, via Flickr

Years ago I came across the advice that exercise can help to kick-start stalled creative juices, so, since some sort of house cleaning had to occur at least once a month, I tried to convince myself that vacuuming was good exercise—a strenuous upper-body workout, albeit only on my right side. But to this day I remain unconvinced (as do the strained muscles in my right shoulder). Vacuuming only makes me cranky, and a cranky writer eats chocolate and checks Facebook.

So I invested in a time- and labour-saving gadget to make my life easier: a robotic vacuum cleaner. At first I was drawn to watch in fascination as “Beetle” laboured, making nice tidy bundles of dust bunnies and debris. Once I was confident of Beetle’s ability to navigate without getting stuck or nudging open forbidden doors, I reminded myself that Beetle was there to save me time—so what was I going to do with that gift of time? The answer was clear: this would be writing time, primarily, (or, occasionally, time won for necessary but otherwise easily-set-aside household tasks). While Beetle was working, I would work too. This was no time to check Facebook, or even for research (if I had instead used the money to hire a cleaner I would not be languishing on social sites and exploring Internet rabbit holes while someone else vacuumed my house). Like Jess, but instead of using a timer, I chose to turn Beetle on and get to work. Beetle runs for a minimum of eight minutes regardless of the size of the room, and there is a surprising amount of writing that can happen in that time. At the very least, it’s a start, and sometimes that’s all I need to get my working day going. That writing is never going to happen shoving a heavy Electrolux around.

What time-saving devices do you use? What do you do with the time this gives you? Have you ever thought of exclusively using that saved time for writing? Or do you have wonderful people who get the mundane stuff done for you so you can write?

Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at ElleCarterNeal.com or HearWriteNow.com

10 comments :

  1. This is an intriguing post, Elle. You made me think about my unproductive moments (hours). I've looked at those little robots you mentioned, but instead I have a Shark -- perhaps not a bad choice because I can use the Shark to chase down the arachnids that scamper across ceilings and hide in upper corners. As for other mundane chores, I think about my story while I dust, do dishes, etc., so that time isn't totally unproductive IF I get right to the computer as soon as the job is finished. If that doesn't happen, I may forget all those ideas. Your thought of taking advantage of small time increments struck a chord. I will try doing that because it will spur me on to greater writing focus and kick-start a search for more little time slots to keep the forward momentum going. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find water helps me think, so washing dishes, watering the garden, and showering are my great plotting and planning times. With vacuuming, though - if I don't do it first thing then I find ways to put it off and end up just tidying up the worst dust bunnies with a brush pan. But if I do vacuum first thing I end up in such a foul mood I can't sit down and write. I don't know why. But now my house is much cleaner :-)

      Delete
  2. I rarely drive long distances anymore, but I do some of my best thinking while doing "mindless" tasks as well. But to the main point, if you don't make writing time a priority and fit it in as you can, you won't do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Year ago I discovered the joy of prioritising only one WIP and letting all other writing-related tasks fit in as they may. That singular focus actually gets more done.

      Delete
  3. When my son lived with us, he brought his Rhomba. All it did was bump into things. I decided to hire a cleaning lady. She's not very good, but she takes off the top dust and washes the kitchen and bathroom floors. Then I realized that the vacuum cleaner was thirty years old, so I too bought a Shark. I wish I could say I use the free time to write, but I've been very lax. I'm turning over a new leaf though. I'm going to be more productive. Yes, I am. You betcha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was very close to hiring someone, but I know I would insist on cleaning up before the cleaner arrived. :-D

      Delete
  4. Oh, gosh. Nobody told me I should vacuum daily. LOL

    Seriously, a clean house has not been a priority after all my kids were walking and no longer getting their knees black after a bit of crawling.

    I also have one of those robot thingies, but it keeps stalling. Or one of the cats decides to sit on it, so it stops. Sigh... Once a month I have a lady who comes to vacuum and mop the living area so if I have company I have a somewhat clean house. It is always good to schedule the cleaning just before the planned gathering of family or friends.

    Since I have had no kids in the house for years, and no outside job for the past 16 years, I am at my computer to write most days all day long. With the advent of the Internet, however, I do spend too much time checking social media. I have started limiting myself to 10 minutes increments a few times a day, and that is working well for the most part.

    Oops, my ten minutes is up....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just have to turn around and back again and there is a fresh layer of crumbs and sandpit sand. Prior to Beetle it was lucky if the house got properly vacuuming once a month; now I shut it in a different room or two each day and cycle through the house over a week or so.

      Delete
  5. I'm like Maryann. I vacuum only out of serious necessity We did get some time saving devices lately, in the form of an Amazon Echo, and some Amazon Dots. Very useful for instantly getting the weather, a phone number, spelling, all sorts of things. Now the hubby just asks his Echo for spelling, instead of asking me.

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...