By Sally Carpenter
One of my at-home projects for long holiday weekends is to sweep and mop the floors. This may not sound like much, but to me it’s an ordeal. It involves chasing the cats outside and then picking everything off the floor and stacking them on either the bed or sofa, leaving me no place to sit down until the floors dry.
Of course the day after the mopping, rain came and my cats trod over the clean floor with little wet paws. All the work for nothing!
But this attitude toward mopping doesn’t mean I’m a slob. I’m actually a neatnick. Every object has its place and must be put there. My writing space is not strewn with papers or books. Papers are filed away and books are in neat piles or on shelves. When I need something, I know exactly where to find it.
The down side is that I get cranky if things are misplaced. I love Christmas decorations, but I’m not happy until every item is hung or put out and the packing bins are put away.
My desk at the office is the same way; clear save for some framed cat photos and mementos. Papers are in the hanging folders in the drawer. Even the items on my bulletin board are hung in a methodical fashion.
What has this to do with writing? Some say house cleaning is a procrastination to keep from writing, but for me, I can’t concentrate when my house—or life—is a mess. Sometimes I’ll even stop working just to take care of the stack of dirty dishes in the sink.
I need a clear space so I can think clearly. If I’m distracted by financial or personal issues, I can’t be creative.
Two years I cut down on my writing obligations because I was getting distracted. My mind was in a jumble, hopping from one thing to do to the next and as a result accomplishing little—certainly not as far as writing the next book.
Also, my mysteries are crafted in an orderly manner. The structure is solid and builds to a logical conclusion. My tidy house reflects my state of mind.
If I’m facing writer’s block or can’t get motivated to write, it’s often a sign that I need to slow down, rest and get focused. I need to put aside the other “to dos,” stop playing computer solitaire (the writer’s bane), sit down with my pen and clipboard, and start writing. That’s how this post was written.
And hanging up the colorful Christmas decorations helps as well.
What do you do to clear out the mental cobwebs?