3 Writing Lessons Learned from a Roomba

RoboticVaccuumBy Laura Drake

About ten years ago, I had back surgery. After I healed, I went back to Domestic Goddess duties, but found I couldn’t vacuum anymore.

Something about the pushing and pulling killed my back. So I informed Alpha Dog (did I mention he’s also Texan?) that this duty would have to fall to him.

He didn’t disagree, but less than a week later, we had a delivery from the UPS guy. A top-of-the-line robotic vacuum. Alpha Dog demonstrated it like a kid with the hottest new Christmas toy. I dubbed her, “Rosie,” after the robot in The Jetsons (Yeah, I’m old.)

I was lying in bed this week, laid up by foot surgery, listening to Rosie do her thing. We could all learn some important things about writing from her!

Top 3 Lessons I Learned from My Robotic Vacuum:

1. Make a Plan.

Rosie actually has a computer chip that allows her to map out the room as she goes. Every time, around, she gets smarter, and more efficient, adjusting the plan for the next time.

We all have a writing process, even if you’re on your first book, and still discovering what it is. Don’t be afraid to adjust the plan, or change it if you find a better way. Keep your eyes open. Even if this is your thirty-second book, try new things. You may find one little tip that will help with the thirty-third.

2. Mistakes aren’t failure; they’re an opportunity to learn.

When Rosie bumps into a corner, or some piece of furniture that wasn’t there last time, she stops, backs up, turns a few degrees and tries again. If she hits it again, she turns a bit more. Eventually she gets out of the corner, or around the obstruction, and that area is clean. She’s done her job.

She doesn’t sulk, she doesn’t whine, she doesn’t give up. She keeps trying until she succeeds.

3. Don’t stop til the job is done, or your dust bin is full.

When she finishes vacuuming, she turns off her sucking mechanism (I don’t know, what do you call it?) sings a chirpy 7-note song, and returns to her station to recharge. I love that little song. It sounds like how I feel when I type “The End.”

To succeed, first you have to finish.

I learned all that from a dumb little machine and the floors are clean, too!

Should I chalk this up to really good pain meds, or have you also had epiphanies while (passively) cleaning? Have you ever learned anything from an appliance?


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