3 Writing Lessons Learned from a Robotic Vacuum

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.)

Years later, I was lying in bed, 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?


  1. Beverly Turner on March 9, 2020 at 5:42 am

    About a year ago, I bought one of these vacuums in an attempt to keep up with the constant carpet of cat hair. Strangely enough, I named mine Rosie, too. But I didn’t remember the Jetson’s robotic maid was Rosie until my son ask if that had been the inspiration for the name. (I guess that info was buried in some crevice of my brain and I didn’t even realize it. Yeah…that makes me old…and forgetful. LOL) At any rate, I have watched that vacuum bump, back up, bump, back up until she works her way out of whatever is in her way. After reading your post, I think my writing is a lot like Rosie. I bang my head against a lot of walls but eventually I find my way out of the corner and on to the next scene.

    • Laura Drake on March 9, 2020 at 8:43 am

      And it works, doesn’t it, Bev? When I look back, I’m always amazed that I had so much angst – after all, it does always get solved….until the next one.

  2. Terrie on March 9, 2020 at 9:27 am

    You never know what you will find in unmapped corners, unexpected road blocks, and scattered toys of ideas. Like Rosie, scoop them up, and whirl them around inside your creative mind until something exciting settles in.

  3. Sherry Gross on March 9, 2020 at 9:37 am

    You had me at the title!

    Then, you give me the reminders I need for a Monday morning!


    • Laura Drake on March 9, 2020 at 9:49 am

      I need them too, Sherry, as I struggle to The End.

  4. Donna Hopson on March 9, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    My robo-vac is called Fifi. Same issue with physical inability to vacuum. It sometimes seems like Fifi is following me around the house.

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