Being a writer has nothing to do with one’s personal style, and there have been plenty of hoarder-style, as well as many minimalist, writers over the centuries.

Recently I saw this meme on Face Book, & laughed:
japanese method declutter humor

It made me think about decluttering, always a popular subject in the new year, and also a subject near & dear to my heart.

Marie Kondo jokes aside, it also made me think about how I could declutter in my capacity as a Writer.

With Language

The obvious culprit to attack is extraneous words. A writer is always called to be their first editor, and that requires the detachment to incise words that smother one’s voice or ideas.

Are you just starting an edit? Are you dragging your feet keeping up with your editing schedule? (Me! Me!) Here’s what I’m telling myself, which sometimes works:

I have the bones. I know what happens now. It’s just about keeping that clear image and structure in mind, and letting go of whatever events, descriptions, words, and thoughts that don’t support that structure.

Let. It. Go.

With Ideas

Another big category for writers is their ideas. Often asked where they get their ideas, from sci-fi to literary to suspense, I’d bet most writers are befuddled.

What do you mean, where do my ideas come from? Ideas and inspiration are everywhere, in the air we breathe!

But perhaps in your work schedule as a writer, you find it difficult to pursue all these ideas. They don’t easily fall into sequence like a Mary Poppins musical number, and you may be paralyzed by too much choice, or uncertainty as to which are the ‘best’ ideas.

So, here’s my mantra on this one: open all those tabs of half-begun stories, or assemble all those notebook pages on your bed. Concentrate on each idea in turn, and simply feel which one is most ready to open up.

Perhaps the mutant plant adventure seemed good when zombies were in full swing, but now there’s no more plot coming.

Maybe you pick up the scrap of paper about the investigation of a trainwreck, and then a woman in black leaps to the snow in the foreground. Suggestions of the stark family issues in Home drift in, and the woman now has a son. And he’s somehow involved with the conductor, who just died…

When it feels like you’ve got a tug on the line, go with that one. Declutter the other scraps into a file, for another time.

With Tools

Ughhh, yesss. What tools do you use as a Writer?

Scrivener? Evernote? Google Drive? Dropbox? Spiral notebooks? Rhyming dictionary? Thesaurus? A drawerful of special pens?

Which ones did you use in the past week? Month? Year?

Having so many things around you is a beguiling crutch, but perhaps it also contributes to that inertia you fight against whenever you sit down to write. (Or stand up)

For me, it is the proliferation of documents, scattered across physical and digital platforms, that makes me feel disorganized and like I can’t get a handle on my ideas and where I should focus.

I can either set up a regular time to scan all of these crevices, or establish a new system and try to stick to it. I’m trying the latter with my sales-tracking, so I think the reminders to scan will suffice for now…as long as I have good accountability buddies.

No mantra on this one yet, then. Maybe you have one to suggest?


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