In which complaining about work turns into a metaphor about writing.

I am a writer, and, like most writers, that means I have another job. It isn’t a glamorous job, this other job, and it’s not even a really good job. But it’s an easy job, one that doesn’t demand too much of me and is structured to allow me to use my mornings for my writing, which is when I’m the most productive and creative at the same time (a very rare convergence, let me assure you). And I like to think that I’m pretty good at this job, too, even though I’m starting to get a little worn down by the repetitive nature of it. But I am good, and what I’m particularly good at is closing out little coffee shop corner of a larger store down for the evening.

We’re a small department, only a handful of us, and we’re all pretty good at the job. You kind of have to be when there’s so few of you to do it. But I always feel like I’m particularly good at the cleaning-for-close part of it, because the place always seems so much dirtier after I’ve had a few days off than when I was the one who closed the night before. That’s how it was last night, as I was going about getting under all the equipment and moving stuff around to clean up. I thought, “It’s never this dirty when I’ve closed the night before.” Because I’m all about maintenance. I clean the same things the same way, dirty or not, every night I close because I know that even one day of not doing it allows it to start getting dirtier quicker. And that was evident when I cleaned last night. The reason things are so clean and tidy when I work is because I’m maintaining a certain level of cleanliness at all time. Daily maintenance goes a long, long way.

And then I got to thinking of how that kind of relates to writing. One of the most popular bits of advice doled out by writers is to write every day. And as someone who writes every day and is infinitely better for it, I can’t agree more. It’s daily maintenance for your craft, even if it’s only a few lines or a page a day. It keeps your prose from getting dirty. It keeps it fresh and clean and new, even if it sometimes feels tedious. It’s important. If you start slipping now, things might get to a point where it’s been so long that you have to work extra hard just to get things back to where they should be. Daily maintenance makes a big different in the long run. Even if you’re running out of time because you’re supposed to clock out at a certain time or else you get a Payroll Talk from your supervisor, it helps to take the extra time to clean under that espresso hopper or wipe down those cabinets or puke out a page of garbage just to fill a page because at least it’s better than nothing.

Besides, the more you do something, the easier it becomes. So write, every day, because every little bit helps.


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