Cleaning up the store before opening the doors to customers. Preparing the canvas before placing the first paint filled brush stroke. Sweeping the stage before rehearsal begins. Prepping your work space before you type at the typewriter for that important article or first draft of a new novel.
Not all writers do this process, but it does help…at least that’s how I noticed a shift in my work whenever I cleaned up the stage.
I was always a tidy child and teenager. I did as I was ordered and told to do in keeping my room clean or maintaining some form of space to keep organized. Even if it meant that my mother with her bipolar with residual schizophrenia on top of that which the littlest thing would upset her of whatever I did ‘wrong’ to her whims. I grew accustom to maintaining my room as perfect as possible. Reason being for the most part, I danced in my bedroom all the time. I understood early on my own observations while taking ballet class in 1985, that the cleanliness of the studio and stage was important. It kept accidents from happening. There is nothing worse in the world than tripping over the smallest object when dancing.
I took that basic training of cleaning up the stage to heart and still do it today, but with a twist.
I discovered in my early 20s that I had a niche in recognizing a pattern of thought whenever I finished cleaning dishes, laundry and sweeping the floors or cleaning anything else in one day. Once the chores were done for that day, my mind was free to focus on my writing for the rest of the week. I would have 5 or 6 days devoted to writing even if it was only note taking and study of my works. I would finish one to three chapters in that week span. Then the cycle of come Sunday or Monday I would clean house once more to prep for the next work week of writing.
Why would I go to such lengths to clean house in one day, even if all I needed to do was 2 to 3 loads of laundry? Imagine for a moment you want to write a whole chapter. The story is flowing out of you, but your mind is bogged down at the forefront of – ‘There is a load of dishes in the sink’ – ‘there is a load of laundry that needs to be washed’ – As you notice there is something keeping you from your work, you stop and go finish that other thing, for my case chores. If I find that this is happening inside my mind and I know physically there are chores to be done, and I continue to ignore those chores, I get depressed for the next few days cause I’m being lazy to myself and neglectful to my writing.
Writing is the reward for when I’m done with basic household needs. I look at this way, if you can not maintain your household of the basic clutter around you (basic chores as I described before) then how can your mind be calm and at peace to help you focus on your creative work in front of you? As much as a cluttered mind can not focus, neither can a cluttered house, stage, etc. When you have not kept to a basic once a week schedule of maintaining the house needs (your needs, mind you) then the creative work before you will and can suffer as a result.
On a Sunday or Monday I’ll see the dishes need to be done. I’ll see if one or two loads of laundry to be done. I’ll notice there are dust bunnies on the floor and sweep all the floors and clean the cat box. Then come Tuesday onward I’ll have nothing better to do than write a new chapter(s) until the next Sunday or Monday rolls around. Then the cycle starts all over again.
Don’t get me wrong here. There are authors out there of all kinds that just focus on the writing and keep going all the while neglecting the household needs to keep them sane, healthy and happy. Especially the healthy part. If you have a partner in your life that can help with the chores to keep you on task at writing, then ask them to help you with the house chores from time to time. It will help you lessen the load.
These are all crucial processes before you begin any body of creative work, before setting a dinner party or office meeting or before you fill your car with vacation essentials for that road trip adventure. If the stage is not cleaned and ready, how can you focus on the task at hand that will then keep you mentally fit and healthy?