By Wendy Lawton
I’m feeling inspired and ready to creatively tackle a complex project I’ve needed to tackle for a long time. My muse, you ask? Why I spent the weekend cleaning out closets, reorganizing the pantry and cleaning toilets. Glamorous, right?
I spent my whole before-agenting life making my living off art and creativity. For thirty years I was a sculptor, doll designer and later, an author of middle grade and YA novels. I received dozens of awards over the years including the Dolls magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and an honorary doctorate from Wilmington University in 2004. Pretty heady stuff.
Over those thirty years I created more than 300 different porcelain doll editions comprising more than 100,000 dolls now residing in collections and museums all over the world. People used to ask how I could keep coming up with fresh new ideas. The answer was simple. Doing dishes, mopping floors and cleaning toilets.
When one lives a creative life– like writing books– the best antidote to the muscles used in creativity are the ones used to do rote, brainless tasks. Are you stuck on a plot issue? Start sorting the wash. You’ll sort out the issue at the same time.
Can’t think up a new idea for another book? Spend the day spring cleaning your whole house. Or tackle that garage or workshop. The ideas will come, fast and furious.
Need to do more interviews for a book and can’t figure out any new ways to approach the subject? Take a long, hot bath. I used to call my claw-foot bathtub “The Think Tank.”
I know it sounds simplistic, but mindless work is a powerful muse–creativity & cleaning toilets go together.
So how about you? ‘Fess up. What mundane tasks get your juices flowing? Why do you suppose that taking a break from creating to spend time working with our hands refocuses our minds?