Day Eleven – When De-Clutter Gets In The Way of De-Writing

Jeff Goins tells me that my next step on the road to becoming a Master Writer is to declutter.


I searched for a while, but didn’t find the camera he must have installed in my office.

I’m a visual person, with memory problems from a blow to the head.  The clutter around me is often the only thing between me and never finishing anything I start.  I begin work on one task, get distracted to a second, only to ditch that one and move back to the original.  The process of decluttering becomes a huge distraction factor for me.

But I know Jeff’s right.  So let me see what I can toss to alleviate some of the background noise in my writing process.


Declutter My Space

Not as hard to do this time around.  I’m getting better at making my “memory” notes in a notebook, rather than on thousands of slips of paper, big and little, that end up lost at the moment I need the reference notes about rituals performed on the banks of the Ganges.

Tomorrow the local newspaper is coming to pick up just shy of 400 books I’m releasing back into the world.  These boxes of paperbacks and hardbacks represent an average eleven months of my reading habit addiction.  I’ll have room to breathe, won’t be tripping over piles of books in every corner.  The newspaper holds a huge used book sale every year and uses the proceeds to deliver newspapers to every classroom in the area.  We all win. 

Declutter My Computer

Did I mention my memory problem?

Just because I can often remember that I read or heard something, somewhere, about a subject I’m interested in, doesn’t mean I can remember where or when in order to find it again.  So I save everything.  And I do mean anything and everything that I think I will ever want to refer to at some time in the far future.  This makes my hard drive bulge at the seams and belch at the most inappropriate times.

I’ve been on a campaign to declutter my hard drive (it’s that or suffer a fatal crash one day).  Moving PDFs, audio files, and associated communication for several online courses I’ve taken to an external drive has made a dent in the available space problem.  But with me, it’s a matter of “not at my fingertips, not at the edge of my mind.”  I hope I don’t forget where I put those files.


Declutter My Mind

You’d think with not being able to remember the important stuff of life, decluttering my mind would be the least of my worries.

Not so.  The world is full of so much information, assaulting us every minute with the minutiae of useless nonsense, that there’s always something buzzing around in my mind.  Frequently, I have to sit myself down for a stern talking to.  “Get your mind back on your WIP.  You don’t need to stop and read that article about Ten Ways to Know if You Are a Helicopter Parent.  For Pete’s sake, Suzanne… you’re not even a parent.  Garbage in, you know!”  And that’s before I go to the refrigerator and start mentally composing a shopping list because nothing in there looks good to me right now.

Every day I need to spend time decluttering my mind and refocusing on where the next chapter of my novel will take the characters, or on the editing job waiting on my desk.  I try to clear out, or at least compartmentalize, all the junk I don’t need to worry about until I’ve finished my writing for the day.  It’s a work in progress.  My mind, I mean.


Declutter My Writing

Here’s the big one.  Write just enough to tell the story clearly and concisely.  Then quit.


Does your declutter list look anything like mine?  Leave a comment and we’ll compare lists and techniques.

6 thoughts on “Day Eleven – When De-Clutter Gets In The Way of De-Writing

  1. I think this is my favorite subject in the series we’ve been on together because I can’t stand clutter. It makes me nervous. I too have memory problems, but having too much around me makes it worse.

    1. Hi Don, Nice to see you here.

      Clutter frustrates me also. Although I know it is blocking my progress, both physically and mentally, I find when I put away ongoing projects I forget that I need to be working on them. So I tend to have lots of piles which are different tasks I need to accomplish. I’m working really hard on this. Every day this year I’ve been trying to complete or organize at least one thing. Who knows – maybe by the end of the year it will have made a huge difference. In the meantime, I still make dozens of notes to myself and hope I don’t put them somewhere so “safe” I can’t find them again. 😉

      Come visit again, Don. The Welcome sign is always out.

  2. Hi Suzanne!
    I laughed out loud as I envisioned you sitting down to figure out if you are a helicopter parent – and you’re not even a parent. Hand in the air – me too! And man – I hate when I do that. Sometimes I worry about where my mind takes me – but then again – all creatives are nuts … no? Or should I say, “Special?” I’m glad I popped in and will look for more opportunity to drop by. Especially if I have an article you need to read!
    ~ Felecia

    1. Welcome Felicia,

      Let’s say we creative people are “Special Nuts.” Kinda like adding dark chocolate to a plain almond. The nuts are already interesting and delicious, but with chocolate added become delicious, exciting and exotic. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      Do come visit, again. And I’m ready to read at a moment’s notice.


  3. Decluttering is a challenge to everyone, I think. Your list is great and inspirational. I’ve been working on whittling my clutter down since the year started. My office is decent. My writing–I think is tight, at least I try to make it that way. My computers, house, mind… well, those I really need to work on. I am tired of clicking through thirty different folders to reach a current project – or having to search for something I know I saved… Somewhere. Good luck on all your decluttering.

    1. Thanks, TC. Hopefully I’m really getting a grip on it now. Or maybe I’ll still delusional about that. 😉

      Good to know you have the upper hand on clutter, or will soon.

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