Sunday, January 11, 2009

Embrace Your Inner Window Washer

Editor Morgan Mandel over at the Blood-Red Pencil wrote a fabulous post today comparing writers to window washers. My first thought when I saw the title was, "Huh?" But once I read the whole thing, I recognized the brilliance in the metaphor.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'm definitely a "Category 1" window washer, although I'm trying to become a "Category 2." There are some days when my Inner Editor is so loud in my head that it's almost impossible for me to write, and there are other days when I lean more toward the Category 2 side, relaxed and in-the-moment and writing at a furious pace. Those are the moments I love, when the writing flows like clockwork, no holds barred. I'm working toward having more of those moments.

As I was writing this post, it occurred to me that the window washer metaphor doesn't just apply to writers. In fact, I'm convinced that just about anyone's approach to life itself can be defined by what type of window washer they are. I've broken down the list as follows:

Category 1 - People who diligently wash their windows. These are your "Type A" personalities-- they are often engineers, attorneys, brain surgeons, etc.; people for whom intensity, ambition and laser-sharp focus are practically job requirements. They spend their days finding flaws and correcting them (arguably, most agents, editors and publishers could fall into this category). Many of them are perfectionists.

(My father is a Category 1; so is my sister. It runs in the family. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Category 2 - People who "plough ahead" and get the job done. These are the "Type B" personalities, people who tend to be more laid-back and easygoing. They don't get hung up on every little detail; they can handle it if the end result isn't perfect. They get things done, even if it's less than stellar, and they move on to the next project.

(My husband is this way, and thank God for it! He's probably the reason I don't have OCD.)

Category 3 - People who hire others to wash their windows. These, I believe, are the natural leaders of the world, the people who go on to become CEO's of Fortune 500 companies. They make sure the work gets done, but they don't do it themselves. Instead, they keep everyone organized and motivated so it gets done as efficiently as possible.

I'd like to add to this list a fourth category--the people who expect their windows to wash themselves. There are a lot of these, and if you're like me, you know more of them than you care to admit. Not to be confused with people who try and fail but keep trying anyway; no, they're the dreamers who never get off their butts in the first place. They're the ones who always say, "I'd like to write a novel one day," but they never write one word.

They don't go out and make life happen; they just expect it to fall from the sky.

So, what about you? What type of window washer are YOU? What kind do you WANT to be?


  1. I'm glad you liked my window washer analogy. I wonder how far it will travel in the annals of blogging. (G)

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Thanks for commenting, Morgan! I hope my post helped get the word out about yours. I think it will. News flies in the blogosphere :-)