Saturday, 10 September 2016

H is for Housework

I've already spoken about house cleaning in this blog recently, but those posts were focussed on supporting the inner beast - providing the calm environment that allows a writer to be productive without the distractions of guilt and discomfort.

Today, however, I'd like to consider the other aspects of housework in a writer's life.

Firstly, it can be used to break up the day into chunks. Earlier this year I explored the effect on my productivity of interspersing periods of writing with television, and the dramatic enhancement that brought about. When I tried the same thing with segments of housework, however, the results were not so conclusive. I didn't get the same wordcount that day, but it was a day so broken up with bites taken out of it - commitments outside the house and so on - that I couldn't really say for sure that it wouldn't have been as effective as television, ceteris paribus.

The second aspect of housework as an inter-writing activity is an OHS one. We've all read about eyestrain and RSI and so on. We know it's bad to sit still at our desks for hours at a stretch. Yet the basically sedentary lifestyle to which we modern folk have been conditioned produces a constant tension against that knowledge. Housework gets you up off your bum, moving around, and focussing your eyes at various distances. Your muscles unkink and you take in more oxygen. That has to be good.

Thirdly, it is calming and freeing to the mind. Now, I don't know if this will be applicable to everyone, but I suspect it will because of the way in which manual labour is incorporated into the daily prayer life of Trappists, and believe me, those guys know how to live well. A happier bunch of men I have never seen than Trappist monks.

So today, I'll be interspersing housework with less physical things as I get my house in order. First up is the daily list. This is stuff that, in theory at least, gets done every day. Clean up the kitchen, dust, hang out the washing and so on. We all have things we do in the house every day, at least in theory. I take care of this swiftly, and it's time for the first work period.

The Pirate King
First task of the day is to write another dialogue for the new edition of Grammar Without Tears. Readers of this blog will be aware that I've been working on new material for a second edition for the last couple of months. It's a slow process, because I don't like to do more than one dialogue per day. Today, I am using the Pirate King and his band to illustrate the correct and incorrect use of 'quite' and 'quiet'. It takes longer than usual, because writing in the appropriate style for these characters demands the composition of verse, but I manage it eventually.

The next bit of housework I have to tackle, given that it's Saturday, is the Saturday list. This is concerned chiefly with the bathroom. It doesn't take long, and soon I am ready for the second task of the day - checking email for anything I need to attend to. There is, in fact, work in my email from a client, but as it's Saturday, this can wait. I was also hoping for another lesson in the course I'm doing, but that has not appeared either. So, on with the Wednesday list, which did not get done this week. This one is a little more intense, including as it does the litterboxes and changing sheets. 

That done, it's time for the next work session, which I plan to spend working on my world build. First, however, a break to take Emily for a walk.

Deerhounds need exercise and stimulation
 A lovely long ramble through the forest and we return relaxed, refreshed, renewed and all those good 'R' things. A little more housework just to finish it all off, and a big game of tug with Emily, and I think I'm pretty well there. There is one more load of washing to go on when the machine finishes, and then it's all done. Time to strike a blow at my world build. I carry on for a bit, but the book I'm reading is very dense and technical and I don't even know enough to identify the science discipline that I'd need to be trained in to follow the fine points of it, and presently, with Ferret snuggled up at my shoulder and Emily at my feet with her teddy, I drift off to sleep, to be woken by the washing machine going absolutely spastic, so it is time to hang out the washing and put on the final load, and with that my day of housework concludes, every outstanding task taken care of.

Once again, I'm not quite sure how much this directly contributed to productivity; I did get done what I needed to get done, though, so if it did no good, neither did it do great ill, and I am still sure that the longer-term effects on productivity are beneficial.

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