Why Writers Should Always Do the Dishes

Photo by Catt Liu on Unsplash

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes." ~Agatha Christie

Do you, too, find this to be true? I work out all sorts of plot and character problems when I am engaged in mundane tasks like washing dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, folding clothes... not only does it help my stories and poems, but my house stays pretty darn clean. :) 

Next time you're stuck, try it!
 Irene Latham is an Alabama author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books for children and adults, including Leaving Gee's Bend, 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year and Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship (with Charles Waters), which was named an NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor Book. Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she also serves as poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal. irenelatham.com


  1. I think it's that right brain/left brain thing. Doing a physical activity that requires little thought frees up the mind to bring forth all kinds of wonders.

  2. I often write poems while I'm walking my dog. This morning I recorded one in the notes on my phone and the translation was quite hilarious.

  3. It's true! Mowing the lawn works. Painting windows... ;)

  4. I don't get ideas while doing the dishes or folding the laundry, but I get the sense that at least I'm accomplishing SOMETHING in my life, which encourages me to tackle other tasks... such as writing. Humdrum tasks rouse me from inertia and stir me toward momentum.


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