Do Washing Up Before Tackling A Big Writing Job

Angus Kidman

Published 11 years ago: May 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm

If you’re about to embark on a major writing task, washing that leftover pile of dishes first might actually be a sensible move. Don’t just take my word for it or assume it’s a reason for procrastination: that’s the advice of mystery writer Agatha Christie, who wrote 80 novels in her lifetime and has sold more than 4 billion books.

In an introduction to her 1947 collection The Labours Of Hercules, Christie noted that housework provided the ideal backdrop for plotting a complex mystery:

The really safe and satisfactory place to work out a story in your mind is when you are washing up. The purely mechanical labour helps the flow of ideas and how delightful to find your domestic task finished with no actual remembrance of having done it!

Washing up is my personal favourite domestic task for planning longer writing tasks. What’s yours?

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  • Oddly enough, I heard this nugget of advice buried in the special features of Ratatouille.

    Apparently chefs use prep time as a period to think creatively. The boring, monotonous tasks that require no thought are perfect excuses for your brain to wander and come up with brilliance.

    Or madness. In my case, mainly madness.

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