May 18, 2010

Dishwater Writing

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."  ~Agatha Christie

I've been doing lots of this kind of writing lately.  The "I'm-doing-a-boring-chore-and-thinking-through-the-next-scene" kind of writing.  But I've also been doing quite a bit of the "sit-at-the-computer-and-please-just-put-SOMETHING-down" kind of writing too.  I've been working on a story that I'm in love with.'s still in the early stages; I haven't made it to the editing/hating phase yet.

But to keep my sanity and help organize my home, I had to slow down my computer time and put in elbow grease into the bathrooms and laundry.  Somehow this quote has really helped me.  I don't begrudge the tasks now; they've become my friends.  A place to develop dialog, or add to a scene, or even consider how my character's house looks.

When I'm neck-deep in life I struggle to keep up with writing (including blogging).  Even though I know that living life helps my writing; I struggle with compartmentalizing my writing life and my real life.  I would like them to sit happily side by side but I haven't figured out the beautiful balance of that yet.

How do you couple real life with your writing life?


  1. I struggle. When something has to give, though, it's usually writing and blogging. I don't think there is an easy answer to this problem. :-)

  2. First of all--New Follower! *waves*

    Not sure how I've missed your blog for so long, but I've found you now! dun dun dunnnnn.

    And this was such a great post, because it's so true. It's not easy to juggle, and sometimes I have to beg my husband to help out a little more (and he's wonderful enough to always step up). But I try to remind myself that brainstorming can be done anytime. Even whilst doing chores.

    Thanks for the post and I look forward to getting to know you better. I love connecting with other writers!

  3. Shannon O'Donnell, I think you're right about no easy answer. But I wish there was...

    Shannon Messenger, Welcome! *hug* I always love adding someone to my circle of wonderful bloggy friends.

  4. I brainstorm when I'm washing dishes and weeding, and I don't know that there is a good answer to your question. We can't do it all all of the time, so something always seems to be sliding at my house. I try not to waste energy stressing over it because I need that energy to catch up. ;o)

    Congrats on having something fun and new to work on. I've been brainstorming a new short story, but I'm not allowing myself to start it until I've finished the draft I'm on - only 45 pages to go.

  5. That is a terrific quote. It has helped me embrace mundane chores as well. Also, when I feel stuck in a group setting, I realize I can use it to gather characters. I also listen to dialogue. It is a difficult pull and tug. We do the best we can. Good to see some fresh words from you here!

  6. Hey, Catherine! I've missed you! :)
    Catching up on blogs is what takes the back burner for me. It's not as much the dishes (although that is a pretty stack in your picture), it's the mounds of laundry. Folding and putting away, then figuring out what to do with the clothes they've outgrown. It's a "first world" problem as my husband puts it.

    But good for you for churning out great ideas! I do work out plot problems while folding laundry or driving.

    Have a great week!

  7. Myrna, I definitely understand about needing energy to catch up. :)

    Mary, I love your idea of gathering characters while waiting. I'm gonna try that at the next doctor's office visit. (And thank you; good to hear from you too! :)

    Kristin, I've missed you too! And...those aren't my dishes. Wish they were! :)

  8. Catherine, I was so happy to see your words! I am also balancing my life..4 kids and my art. I find that if I stop creating, I am not as content with the rest of my life. It seems to be a circle, connecting what we need to do so we can create. Creating so we have energy to do what we need to do!!!

  9. Jema, I like your circle analogy. Great word picture--it keeps everything entwined. (Happy to see you too!)

  10. One of my writing partners--Christy Raedeke, whose book PROPHECY OF DAYS is having a birthday party tonight!--says that the best writing comes from the gutter.

    Isn't that true?!

  11. Really?! To Do: Clean gutters. Thanks Jennie, it's on my list now. Maybe it'll help me get through my next scene! ;)

  12. Yup, finding a balance between writing life and day job life is tough. At first, I ate, breathed, and lived writing, shoving the rest of my "world" to the farest, dustiest corners. Um, I totally lost balance that way.

    Not cool.

    So now I pace myself. And you know what? I can see how to improve my writing all the better for it.

    Great post! Lovely blog!

  13. I do most of my brainstorming in three places. In the hottub at the the shower...and when I mowing the lawn. As much as I despise mowing...I get some really great ideas then. HUMPH!

  14. ugh me too. I just have to let some things go and be ok with it. i try to schedule in writing time.

  15. If you find that balance, let me know! I need it too. :o) Some things have to give and I'm really trying to make sure it's not my writing as of late. I'll pick up the pieces of everything else later.

    And I so totally get that in-love but please just put something down phase! I'm in it too.

    Love your blog--the background is gorgeous especially! :o)

  16. lbdiamond, I've gone the crash-and-burn route too. Balance is good. :)

    Shelli, letting things go is a lesson I continue to learn.

    Jackee, haven't found that illusive balance yet. Maybe I need a new scale. (And thank you! :)

  17. I'm still working on finding that balance. Good luck to you!

    I love the art featured above. You are very talented! Kelly Rae Roberts is one of my favorites.

    I'm happy I stopped by!

  18. Wow, Jamie, thank you! I love that you stopped by.

  19. So well said! I often seek out a menial task so I can let my brain work ahead on my manuscript. That combined with the bum in chair, just write anything efforts is what gets my first drafts done. Right now I'm at a bit of a snag with my wip. Up to this point I had a pretty clear idea of what needed to happen...

    And no, I still haven't figured out a good life/writing life rhythm. Hopefully, someday!

  20. i love the idea of thinking about your character's home while working in yours.
    i just do what all the writers say, carry a notebook, write things down. collect words. sometimes i do what susan wooldridge suggests in poemcrazy, find new names for plants and flowers. anything to keep it alive.

  21. Hi, Catherine! Long time no comment :) Thanks for sharing the quote; I love the idea of turning routine chores into writing playtime. As far as balancing life and writing, that's a tough one. I had to drop writing for fun (and blog writing, reading) altogether over the last couple months to make it through balancing school and life. Um, perhaps persistence and nice walks + definitely taking advantage of chore time for thinking time?

  22. Elle, yes, hopefully some day. I keep reminding myself that the process is important too.

    Tricia, great reminder about the notebook. I think that's crucial yet I forget to do it.

    Sarah, I know what you mean about dropping things for a time (did that myself). I like that you added nice walks. They do help clear the brain!

  23. I haven't mastered it yet! When you figure it out, please let me know.


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