Writing is Like Cleaning (only better).

(writing)


Quick update. SADIE is now available for the NOOK. Check it out here. I personally have a Kindle Fire for reading, but I’m sure the NOOK is just as great. 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/rebecca-belliston


Which reminds me…Did you know that the Kindle Fire is mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Well, maybe the device isn’t, but my kids got a good laugh out of this: 

2 Nephi 7:11 “Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled.” (based on Isaiah.) The Kindle Fire is also mentioned in Malachi. 1:10 “Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought.”

As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any NOOKs mentioned in the scriptures, but don’t let that dissuade you from buying SADIE. :)  We tried finding an “I Touch” but no such luck. 

Yes, I am easily entertained. My kids are too, thankfully.

Also, in case you were wondering, my two nephews are back home now. We are going to miss them. They were so sweet and we loved having them around, but I’m sure they’re glad to be back in their own beds. And their mom’s surgery went really well, so big relief on that account! 

Okay, on to how writing is like cleaning. (And if you don’t like to write, feel free to substitute your favorite hobby in here).

Disclaimer: I HATE TO CLEAN



Before my nephews came last week, I knew I need to clean the house top to bottom. The youngest is nearly two and I wasn’t exactly sure what he’d get into or trip over, so I felt that it was time to buckle down and find some shine. 

As I started cleaning, the most depressing thing happened. I got all the big stuff done, laundry, dishes, toys, books, and thought I was finished, but then I started to notice a few things. Fingerprints on the windows, water marks on the fridge, stains in the carpets. So with a little more elbow grease, I cleaned those things as well. Then an even more depressing thing happened. I started seeing micro-spots and dust particles and chips in the paint. I hadn’t noticed these things before because I had more pressing messes. But the cleaner my house became, the less clean it felt. Does that make sense? 

I was getting more and more depressed about it until…I left the house. Only after I ran some errands and walked back in did I truly appreciate all the work I’d done. And then I was thrilled. I patted myself on the back and thought, “Yahoo!” 

That’s when I decided writing is like cleaning (only better, because writing can’t be undone within seconds of the bus dropping off the kids–unless the kids happen to wipe out your hard drive and then it’s basically the same). My point is that our first draft takes care of the big things like plot, characters, and setting, and when we finish we take ourselves out to dinner because we’re so proud of ourselves. “I just wrote a book! Yahoo!” 

Then we decide to reread what we’ve written. That’s when we start spotting things like sentence structure, cardboard characters, and obnoxious commas. So we work, tweak, fix, and when we finally finish we take ourselves out to dinner again, Italian this time, because “Hooray! Yes, I fixed it. I’m so awesome.” And then…

You get the point. 

After the fourth or fifth (or fifteenth) draft, it starts to feel like we have the dumbest, lamest book ever written in the history of mankind. “I mean seriously, my four year old writes better than this!” 

So my advice? Leave the house. 

Walk away.

Take a break.


Maybe even clean the house. Nah. Never mind. Read a book. 

So that when you return to your manuscript (or painting, quilt, scrapbook, or whatever you love), you can see all that hard work for what it really is. Beauty.

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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

12 thoughts on “Writing is Like Cleaning (only better).”

  1. Lol, this is very true! I'm going through the editing process at the moemt and I find that a break now and again makes everything look a lot less rubbish!

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  2. You've described my day. I write, I clean. I write, I cook. I write, I play with the kids. I write, I run carpool.I do think that the breaks help. It gives me time to decompress and reflect on my writing.

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  3. Great analogy. Being a househusband, I know a thing or two about cleaning, but it's true that when doing an "intense" clean, the more you do, the more there is to do.With editing and stuff, it's good to get away sometimes and get distance and perspective, otherwise you "can't see the wood for the trees" (cliche alert).

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