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What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Laundry

Courtney Cantrell's weekly writing advice.

Courtney Cantrell's weekly writing advice.

That’s right. You heard me. Laundry. Did you know laundry has lessons to teach about writing? I didn’t–until a particular inconvenience of apartment life thrust my preconceived laundry notions into tumble-dry-high. You like that apropos imagery? Yea verily, I thought so.

Laundry is my second-least favorite chore. (Vacuuming occupies the top of my Hated Chores List and will do so until someone invents the cleaning mice of Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles.”) Since I live in an apartment that comes complete with no washing machine hookup, I must avail myself of the unheated/unairconditioned laundry room located at the center of the complex.

I don’t like going in there. For one thing, it’s either too cold or too hot, depending on the season. Not only that, but the owners recently installed new machines, which means I have to pay more per load. (And the new machines keep breaking down. ‘Nuff said.) Furthermore, I’m paranoid. I can’t bring myself to stick the clothes in the washer/dryer and leave them alone while I go off and do my thing. I’m convinced that the moment I turn my back, one of the elderly folks who live in my apartment complex is going to pop in, stop my washer, and abscond with my Arizona jeans and my Daisy Fuentes long-sleeved T-shirt. Not to mention the black camisole that comprises my first ever boutique purchase. Oh, and my precious toe-socks. Must protect toe-socks.

So yeah, when I’m washing clothes in the laundry room, I feel compelled to watchdog them. Which means I’m sitting there for at least two hours I could better spend elsewhere doing elsewhere sorts of things. Which brings me to the point of this post:

I have discovered that the laundry room makes an awesome writing hideout.

Courtney’s Ten-Step Laundry Program For Creative Writing

Here, then, is my solution to the paranoid laundry doldrums:

  1. Take laundry to laundry room.
  2. Stick laundry in washers. (Don’t forget detergent and the “start” button.)
  3. Set up laptop/pull out writing notebook and pen, and settle in.
  4. Begin writing with no distractions, namely:
    • Internet
    • books
    • chores
    • Internet
    • paperwork
    • phone calls (Yes! You, too, can make your laundry room a no-phone zone!)
    • other people
    • have I mentioned Internet?
  5. Keep writing.
  6. Take laundry out of washers.
  7. Put laundry in dryers. (Fabric softener is recommended but optional.)
  8. Write some more.
  9. Keep writing.
  10. Have a very productive writing day.

You see, when you eliminate distractions and enticements, you free your mind and creativity to do the writing work they need to do.

Now, I realize that some of you might be blessed with the creativity-inhibiting inconvenience of washer/dryer ownership. Not to fret, my dears: All you have to do is shut yourself away in your laundry room at home, silence your phone, ban the children, and bask in the rhythmic whir of rotating machinery, letting your story flow as sweet-smelling as your favorite fabric softener.

And that’s WILAWriTWe!

(Last but not least: If you click on a link within this post, and if you buy a product, This Starving Artist will get a few bucks. Thus spake the FCC. And please, kids, don’t forget to clean your lint filter.)

Photo credit Courtney Cantrell.

4 Responses to “What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Laundry”

  1. For me, it’s Starbucks. I went this weekend, in fact. Since I can’t get internet at Starbucks, it’s pretty much free sailing…other than the occasional people-watching (mostly I find the employees entertaining to watch). For some reason, I can’t ever get that focused at home.

    • Aaron Pogue says:

      That’s funny, Becca. I get much of my best writing done at Buffalo Wild Wings. A little junk food, some free refills on Diet Coke, and a fresh black ink pen are enough for me to fill up a dozen pages.

      Been a writer all my life, though, and I can barely write a hundred words at home. I’ve never quite figured that one out.

  2. Carlos Velez says:

    I get in 45-60 minutes at B&N on my lunch breaks. I just have to do split my eating between my two 15 minute breaks to maximize peoductivity.

  3. Courtney Cantrell says:

    I think writing at home can be so difficult because at home, there are so many, many things to DO. We humans have a hard time anyway, distinguishing what’s necessary from what’s urgent. Writers have it worse, because we have an entire systemhistorysociety telling us that writing isn’t neccesary–when in our heart of hearts, we know it is one of THE Necessities. So we’re fighting societal discouragement, and we’re fighting against all the chores and to-dos that always seem so urgent at home, but in a hundred years won’t matter one whit.

    Me, I’ve managed to create an environment in my home that allows me to tune out all the urgent-seemings and focus on what I know is necessary. However, there are times when my resistance is low–and that’s when I head to Vintage or Full Circle or the coffee shop at Books-A-Million. 🙂