In For Writers, Motivation

There aren’t many things that I really, really hate, but cleaning is one of them. Why do I hate cleaning? Plain and simple: it’s a waste of time. Our place is not all that big, but cleaning it by myself takes about 6 hours. And I can think of a million better ways to spend 6 hours of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love things neat and tidy (and sanitary), but I don’t like being the one who has to make them that why. (I, of course, blame this on my mother who never made me lift a finger and sent me into the real world believing that things magically clean themselves.)

Most people ask me why I don’t just hire a cleaning person. The truth is, I have trust issues. I’m afraid that someone will walk off with a piece of jewelry…or, you know, steal my identity, wipe out my bank account, and involve me in some sort of international crime ring. Others have asked why I don’t just ask Dave to do the cleaning. Ha! Every time I ask him to help me clean, he says it’s a waste of time and begs me to hire someone to do it. (His Mom is to be blamed as well).

Believe me, I’ve tried to get over my trust issues and hire a cleaning service but it always ends badly. The first time, I came home to find my bi-fold closet doors ripped off the hinges and resting against the wall. Another time, I discovered gouges in the wooden trim along the bottom of the couch where the vacuum had rammed it mercilessly. One time, I was stood up by a cleaning person who never bothered to call me about the so-called traffic jam she was stuck in, and it made me late for work. And most recently, I was nearly ripped off (if you leave an hour early, I’m not paying you for that hour…kapeesh?).

To date, no jewelry or sensitive information has been stolen (to my knowledge), but there’s always that nagging question…what did they do with my toothbrush while I was gone?

So that leaves only one semi-willing person who I trust to clean our home: me 🙁

Determined to find a way to make those six hours less awful, I decided to add the thing that I love (writing) to the thing that I hate. No, I’m not writing my next manuscript while waiting for the toilet gel to work its magic on hard water stains (though that’s not a bad idea); I’m using those “wasted” hours to do something that I don’t usually have time for: developing my craft.

One of the best things I’ve discovered online (other than Groupon) is the wealth of videos and podcasts on every writing-related topic under the sun: author interviews, readings, advice, classes, conferences…the list goes on and on. The seven dwarves might have you believe that you should whistle while you work, but if you want to become a better writer, I say, listen while you work.

Here are some gems that I’ve enjoyed while scrubbing shower tiles and steam mopping my kitchen floor:

Elizabeth Gilbert: A New Way to Think About Creativity (via YouTube)

Joyce Carol Oates on Writing Characters (via YouTube)

Sessions from Book Group Expo (via

The Writing Show Podcast

B&N Studio’s Meet the Writers Podcast

iTunes: Meet the Author Podcast

Writers on Writing Podcast

New Yorker: Fiction Podcast

(These resources are also great for a long commute or a trip to the DMV.)

So the next time you reach for the rubber gloves, pull out your iPod too.

Just don’t drop it in your sparkling clean toilet.

What writing-related resources do you like to listen to?

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Showing 3 comments
  • Ashley Prince

    I never thought about that. And I too hate cleaning. Ugh. It is such a waste. =/

  • Wanderlust

    I can absolutely relate! I find it to be a complete waste of time…but great tip on listening while you clean.

  • Jim

    This is a fantastic resource Erika. Thanks!

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