Reasons to Write: Write to Avoid Housework

Christina Katz

By Christina Katz
It’s not a secret that I dislike housekeeping. Relatives have come right out and suggested to my face hiring someone without apologizing for their directness. But I look at this as more of a sign of their intolerance for our wabi-sabi lifestyle than anything else.

I’m an author, teacher, and speaker and my husband is a teacher and theater director. Our careers require a certain amount of creative immersion that we happen to enjoy. I realize our relaxed lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but over the years in the class I teach especially for moms, I’ve become something of a mess evangelist.

The way it happened is that the moms in my class kept saying they didn’t have time to write. And finally, after tossing out all of my other suggestions, I threw down the gauntlet.

Stop cleaning so much. Lower your expectations about a perfectly orderly home. Ask for and expect more help with household chores from the whole family. Is it still a radical idea, even in the new millennium, that the “woman of the house” is not 100 percent responsible for the cleanliness of the house?

That time to write has got to come from somewhere.

Often women who are home raising kids but are not making a financial contribution feel stuck. They want to start, for example, a writing career from home but their husbands don’t want them to try. They don’t want their wives to make the investment of time and money into becoming a professional who works from home, even though writing is the lowest-investment business you can start-up.

Notice I didn’t say writing is a no-investment business. Rather it’s a low-investment business. Now I think we all know where I stand on this idea. I have had students sneak my class onto a credit card without telling their spouse until the class was over. And though, I don’t especially enjoy being privy to such intimate couple dynamics, we get the picture. Women want to learn skills that can help them make money from home so they can have the best of both worlds. What’s wrong with that?

So here are some tips for those who not only want to write to avoid housework, but those who need to avoid housework in order to write:

1.    Eschew conformity. Don’t confuse your value as a human being with how clean your home is. I have known some fabulous women who couldn’t cook or clean worth a darn. And if anything, this fact only makes them more charming and memorable to me.

2.    Make housekeeping a team sport. Crank up the music. Give everyone a job. Tackle the worst of it for a couple of hours on the weekends. It’s amazing how much a family can get done when everyone works together. Even very young children love to dust, squirt windows and mirrors and sweep. Get them their own special cleaning tools so they really can contribute.

3.    Hurry up and get paid for writing. The longer you drag your feet and dilly-dally, the more skepticism you’ll be confronted with from others. In all of my years of teaching, I have to say that I have encountered many women who seem to want a guarantee before they commit. I can’t give them that. But I can almost guarantee that if you don’t commit, you won’t succeed.

4.    Read the book, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder–How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman. Or listen to it on audio while you clean up a little bit between juggling kids and writing gigs.

Viva tolerable messiness! Now if I could only get our dogs to pull their weight around here, I’d be all set.

Writer Mama by Christina KatzGet Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.


15 Responses to “Reasons to Write: Write to Avoid Housework”

  1. 3 SquiggleMum April 24, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Oh, this is just what I needed to read today. I don’t want to look back and say, “Well, my writing career never took off, but I had an immaculate house!”

  2. 4 adjunctmom April 24, 2009 at 3:58 am


    Now, can we get my mother to read this?

    Never mind. She’s still trying to work out the whole internet thing.

  3. 6 Ana April 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I love this article! I find myself not worrying too much about housework and spending more time on reading and writing. The great thing is, I do not even feel guilty about it. I have prograstinated too long in the past with the excuse of all the household stuff I had to get done, then I was too tired to write. I no longer have that problem.

  4. 7 ginabad April 28, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Oh good, now I feel better. I gave up housekeeping about 8 months ago in order to write more. And followed much of the other advice in this post too, like “hurry up and get paid”. Best decision I ever made. Great article!!

  5. 8 Ted Perrone April 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Amen, sister! I twitter often about avoiding housework by writing. I am going to save this page and e-mail it to my wife. I’ve been your follower for some time now, and you always give much needed advice and reality checks that feel good, like so many well-timed slaps to the face. How about a shout out once in a while for us stay-at-home writer-dads? I write, cook, clean, take the kids to school, grocery shop, and all that, and !gasp! I’m a man! I do, however, need to hurry up and get paid. Thanks for all your hard work, Christina!

  6. 9 JanCurrie April 28, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Since V Woolf’s imagined murder of ‘the angel in the house’ we’ve been trying to destroy the image of the perfect housewife to little effect. K. Mansfield had a head full of ‘pots and pans’ – it’s an affliction.
    I’d be interested to know if men are also afflicted?

  7. 10 Abby Green May 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I hear you, sister! It’s a miracle in our house if laundry EVER gets folded & put away! I figure if it’s at least clean, that’s good enough.

    One note, though: As a person who’s very affected by my surroundings, I can’t concentrate enough to write if my house is a total disaster. I require a certain amount of order to have mental order, know what I mean? Guess that’s why feng shui makes sense to me.

    Also, getting paid IS a great coup for those who are striving to be taken seriously as writers, but it’s just as important if not more to take YOURSELF seriously. Just tell people who ask what you do, “I’m a freelance writer.” They’re not going to quiz you about your last paycheck. If you say it with confidence, they’re going to respect you. Skeptical husbands included. I really believe that.

  8. 11 Renee Roberson May 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I only clean when I have a deadline. Guess I am a true writer mama.

  9. 13 merlotmom May 18, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I am a new subscriber to your site. Thank you (so far) for some great advice. I was wondering if you could tell me some of the best ways to start getting paid as a writer. Are there publications more suited for a writer who has had little published? Thank you.

  1. 1 Writer Mama Buzz « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on May 7, 2009 at 7:03 pm
  2. 2 My Writer’s Digest/BEA Conference 2009 Scrapbook Now Posted « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on June 1, 2009 at 8:50 pm
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