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3 Ways Laundry is Like Writing

Image: graur razvan ionut
One of the biggest excuses writers have for not writing as much as they would like is lack of time. Sometimes, it is not an unheard of excuse. Most of us have jobs, families, significant others, pets, television, Facebook accounts, Twitter, eating, cooking, sewing on that button that fell off that sweater last year(etc...) to attend to. There are countless tricks we can play with ourselves to sneak by these obstacles and get to the writing table (I've written about some of them before), but sometimes those obstacles become too overwhelming to ignore.

This was the case for me last weekend. I KNEW I had writing to do, but I also had laundry to do; the laundry room was becoming a physical obstacle. Thanks to modern technology, this is a good chore to do while writing. The machine does the washing while I write, the buzzer gives me a chance to stretch while I move the load into (or out of) the dryer.

And, besides, it gave me this idea for a blog post.

I'm no Heloise, so I'll forgo any specific laundry-type advice here except for the very basic: Before you start washing, separate your colors from your whites, and pay attention to those delicate clothes that need special attention. Not sure what needs special attention? Read the labels. If your only time to do laundry consists of taking a week's worth to your local laundromat, still follow the rules. Don't try to stuff everything into one machine to save a buck or two. You'll pay for it later.

Sort it out
You are a writer, a creative person. Because of this, you probably have a few (or a few hundred) ideas for writing and marketing projects rolling around at any given time. You can't do it all at once. Just like that proverbial misplaced red sock that turns your whites pink (Really, red socks? Who has red socks?), you need to keep misplaced projects out of your mind and focus. Otherwise your writing will turn into a tainted jumble of confusion. Keep your head out of the spin cycle. Work on one thing at a time, complete it, and then tackle the "red socks".

Laundromat Writing
I'm not saying you shouldn't work on more than one project at a time. Many of us have the writing or editing that pays the bills, the long-term passion project like a novel, AND a weekly blog. In this case, your writing life is a laundromat. That's fine. But when you sit down to write, stick to one "machine": one essay for your job OR one chapter for your novel. Commit to one project and see it through. Multi-tasking is just asking for trouble. You may think you are saving time bouncing back and forth between documents, but this is just like stuffing as much as you can into one machine--what comes out at the other end wasn't treated the best way so it runs the risk of being wrinkled, discolored... and in need of even more attention later.

The Delicates
This isn't just another blog post, this is your passion project, some work that you consider very special. You've spent your writer's bling (time and effort) getting it just right, and you want to make sure it doesn't fall apart. Maybe it's your novel, and you are ready to find an agent. You want to discover the publisher who will display your work in the best way, so many can admire your story. Each step will take tender loving . Treat your query letters just as precious as your final product. If you are not sure how to write a good query letter, search around and read about it (the opening pages of the Writer's Market has good examples and check out this post from Nathan Bransford). When you hear that an agent is interested, don't jump into a situation without researching the agent and his/her work fully. After all, you wouldn't throw your delicates in a machine without checking for something that could damage them, right? There could be some spaghetti in there! (OK, that's even more strange than red socks, but it's a reference to another Nathan Bransford post about Spaghetti Agents. You want to avoid these. I'm pretty sure you know not to wash your delicates in spaghetti.) Give your Precious Project the best chance to shine once it goes out into the world.

Well, I just heard the buzzing! My time for this post is up. 

What tricks do you use during your day to complete your chores and your writing?


  1. Gotta say, I'm using reading your blog as an excuse not to write this morning, or design those contact sheets for the Care Team at church. I often use laundry and housework as an excuse.

    And, I do have a pair of red socks!


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