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Friday, July 29, 2011

4 Ways To Stop Being A Lazy Writer/Cleaner

I was making my stepson’s bed yesterday and found crumbs and one of those thin, blue sheets of paper that you use to grab donuts. The only time I’d bought donuts was about four days before, and I didn’t think anything of it when he grabbed it from the counter and retreated to his room.

Now, I know a thing or two about eating in bed (evening ice cream while reading a book is my specialty), but I usually don’t leave things to rot in the sheets. For four days.

Finding that scrap of paper made me think about all the little donuts remnants we leave in our manuscripts, and how we think that a brief hand swipe over the bed and hiding evidence of naughtiness deep in the sheets is a substitute for actually doing the laundry. It’s not in life and donut-eating, and shouldn’t be in writing.

Here are 4 methods of avoiding laziness in writing:

1. Mow the lawn before you have a party for friends—Yes, the neighbors (critique partners/beta readers) will notice the care you take or don’t take with your property. It will impact how seriously they take you and how much they think you respect their time.

2. Get your iron out—Don’t put the manuscript in the dryer a second time to get the wrinkles out. They won’t stay that way, so get out your stinking iron and spray starch to make it last.

3. Dust in hard to reach places
—The tops of paintings and photos, the back of the bed post, legs of your kitchen table, etc. They (CPs/BRs/agents) might not notice how you’ve specifically taken the extra-strength cleaning spray to your adverbs and sentence length, but they’ll sense it by the lingering scent of hard work and the sparkle of your formatting.

4. Soak the dishes before you try to scrub off the gunk—I’m talking about serious pans from homemade lasagna—anything that took a heck of a long time, that you worked hard on, that looked and tasted delicious, and that left you sighing in contentment (aka, finishing a new manuscript).

It may seem like you’re being proactive by diving right into the clean-up, but in fact it’s the opposite. Patience is the tough part, but if you soak the pan first, the clean-up goes much more smoothly.

Don’t forget about
Operation Awesome’s Mystery Agent Contest on Monday, August 1st. Looks like they’ll be asking for a one-sentence pitch. I’m not sure what the genres will be, so keep checking the website.

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Jess, this was absolutely great!!!! I'm going to email your link to my critique group.

  2. lol this is so funny. And great advice too told in a matter of fact manner that I can relate to. I have to say...I never soak my dishes. I'm so bad.

  3. This was funny! Good notes to keep in mind!!!

    I'm excited for the Agent Contest come August! I'm just hoping 30 Guys is ready to go... though if it isn't I'll still handle it!

  4. My daughter sounds like your stepson, lol! She's got hand-sweeping down to an art form ~ :)

    Of course, I think I might know where that comes from... (me...) These are great cleaning tips for writing! I may need to tape it to several key places in my house. Thanks!

  5. Great analogies for cleaning messy writing in manuscripts and letting them soak for a while to get the dirt loose easier! How about fertilizing the lawn - for adding in senses and other specific details to make scenes come alive?

  6. You are truly creative! I love writing and I don't love cleaning, but the way you brought them together is brilliant.

  7. Great reminder of ways to clean up our writing. Those little thins count, but are tempting to forget. Thanks for the prod.

  8. Love this. It will make me feel like I've caught up on housework when I write all day!

  9. wow, I'm tired just reading this! love that donut story!

  10. Great advices as usual Jess.
    Sorry I've been MIA lately. lots of stuff happening. :(
    On the bright side you won a bookbling of the Late rebellion, so I'm going to need your addy to ship it to you. :)

  11. Great advice and perfect analogy! I love this Jess:)

  12. Analogies like this not only make me smile but make it easier for me to tackle all those things I know I should. :)

  13. awesome tips and really perfect analogies! lol. I never let the dishes soak long enough...:)

  14. Awesome analogy Jess! It's good to be back :)

  15. Loved the post! But if being a good writer is linked to cleaning skills I am in SERIOUS trouble :)

  16. This is an hilarious post.

    I went to change my 7 yo's sheets one day and found quite the stash of halloween candy wrappers. I'm not sure why she didn't think that MAYBE I'd find them when I did the laundry. ;)

  17. Ha! I love the analogy -- you're so good at this type of thing! I've just had to send a draft to my betas with the metaphorical donut wrappers still in there, but I did own up to what I'd done! I'm short on time!