Freelance Writer: Refinement=Cleaning

Mahesh Raj Mohan

Mahesh Raj Mohan

I am a full-time Portland freelance copywriter, editor, and content marketing specialist. I help companies with white papers, case studies, technical writing, product copy, and more.

I’ve mentioned the refinement process I use as a freelance writer.  For me, it’s a lot like spring cleaning.

This past weekend, I methodically took out all the larger objects out of the garage (car, recycling container, trash container, paint cans, etc.), lifted the brush broom, and started sweeping.

Because I think about writing and editing all the time, as I cleaned, I thought, “huh, this is a lot like editing.”  I especially noticed this after I had cleared away the layer of dust and potting soil I spilled months ago (I’m clumsy).  I used the brush broom to push out the errant particles, then I repeated it, making the cement progressively smoother.  It reminded me of each refinement pass I make as I edit my own work (or the work of others).

When it was all done, I stood proudly, holding my broom in one hand, and wiping sweat from my brow.

Just as I felt better clearing out the months of guck, I always feel better about choosing the right words and placing them in the best place on a page.

Like cleaning, the refinement process can be exacting, time-consuming, and arduous, but the end result is always worth it.


How about you?  What strange analogies can you make between your daily life and your work?

4 thoughts on “Freelance Writer: Refinement=Cleaning”

  1. That's a great way of looking at it. I love the image of the broom sweeping over and how with each stroke, the floor gets cleaner and cleaner.

    One strange analogy that always comes back to me occurred to me one day as I was plucking my eyebrows (I'm sure all guys can relate 😉

    The thing is, I never want to have over-plucked eyebrows, but I like to keep their shape well-defined. So I just clean them every once in a while, plucking a couple of hairs here and there. It's like editing–the point isn't to cut words for no reason; it's to polish so that the shape of the narrative can really come through.

    Eyebrows & editing…who knew, right?

  2. juliamunroemartin

    Hi Mahesh! Glad to find you via Natalia's blog… I love this post! For me, cooking often reminds me of the writing process — especially when I cook layered things like lasagna (Natalia and I have talked about this after I once wrote a blog about it) as well as pies and quiche — things with filling and multiple steps in making. I can relate to the excellent garage sweeping metaphor from past garages, but I don't have a garage right now (for some reason many old houses in Maine don't have them — which is paradoxical because we get so much snow, but that's another story altogether). Great post!

  3. Thanks for the compliment, Julia! I enjoy the cooking metaphor, too, particularly the pie part (mmm, pie), especially because it's true. That's interesting to know about Maine … I love the pictures of the foggy seascape on your blog!

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