How to get yourself to write
By way of cleaning the apartment
I have finally figured out that the best way to get myself to thoroughly clean the apartment is by declaring that the next several hours are to be exclusively dedicated to writing. Immediately following this declaration, I’m seized by an insurmountable desire to deep clean the kitchen. It starts when I take my breakfast dishes to the sink and think to myself, alright, now we’re going to wash these dishes and get to work writing. But then I catch a glimpse of last night’s pot with the little bits of rice stuck to the bottom resting on the burner crusted with remnants of starch from the overflow boiling. So while my dishes are soaking, I scrub away at the burner. Which leads to wiping down flecks of dried food stuck to the tiles behind the sink. Which leads to sweeping the floor of the kitchen and a light wipe down. Which leads to sweeping and mopping my bedroom floor. And on and on.
I only become a compulsive cleaner when it’s time to write. In fact, earlier in the morning, I had actually been thinking myself about how I ought to clean my room before being seized by an intense desire to read the whole internet. Fortunately, I have been actively working on this compulsion. It now manifests itself as a confused pattern of tapping on my phone. Tap, open Facebook. Remember that Facebook is boring and stupid, flick, close Facebook. Mind wanders for a few moments, muscle memory triggers, tap, open facebook. Flick, close. Tap, flick, tap, flick. The output of a business analytics learning algorithm on my smart phone interactions probably wouldn’t be significantly different from that of a psychotic cat swiping at the screen.
While I sweep I think. I poke the broom under my bed and when I pull it out, it is covered in clumps of dust assembled around strands of hair. I wonder if brooms were designed for dirt to stick to the bristles. Maybe I’ve been thinking about brooms all wrong. Maybe they’re more like sticky rollers for catching pet hair than snow plows for dirt.
I think about different bits I’ve read about being creative, how the mind needs time and space to be turned off in order to make the connections and metaphors that lead to art. My Facebook phone dance feels even more destructive. My mind-wandering sweeping feels more virtuous than ever. I decide that I should start a blog called Writing Writing, how clever, writing about writing. Like the Buffalo sentence. Though the title doesn’t do much for the hypothetical blog’s googleability. Googleability is a word, I just checked.
The problem with the writing is that I have a hundred ideas for pieces and projects, all the tools I need and then some, the knowledge of how it feels to have completed a piece that says exactly what I meant… and an ocean of panic inside of me. Starting feels impossible. This, coupled with a burning desire to be read and recognized. Although, I don’t think I’d want to be recognized by face. I wonder if J.K. Rowling can walk down the street unrecognized. I don’t know what many famous writers look like.
Maybe even this writing project is a distraction from the real writing. Several hundred words later, I feel productive, but what have I produced? Another millennial rant? I’ve decided it’s okay. It got me away from the phone nemesis, and it got me away from the broom. I’m sitting up at my desk and the window is open and my mind is as quiet as it will ever be. Maybe it’s time to start.