Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Writer Spring Cleaning List

Okay, come on, we all know most of us put it off. I have only heard of people who actually rotate winter clothes for summer clothes. The closest relation I have to one of those people is my husband's aunt who I've never met. But, as a writer, we all NEED to do this.

We are, in general, a pretty messy group. We have any combination of soda cans, coffee mugs, Starbucks cups, tea cups, and/or glasses with remnants of who-knows-what surrounding our writing desks. Writing desks themselves, I've come to realize are mythical things. I go through periods where mine doesn't exist. There's a myriad of printed out rough drafts, pictures of who we think our MC's resemble, queries, and doodles that are a direct result of writers block. Don't even get me started on the post-it notes.

Don't try to tell me that your mess makes sense to you. Chances are it's just a way to make you think you've been productive. Or in some cases, to mark your territory, "I am a WRITER. This is my DESK. This where I create mind-blowing awesomeness and simultaneously wallow in self pity! Behold it's greatness!"

No, no.

So let's get started.

  1. Clean that bookshelf off. Yup, do it. It's not just cluttered with books anymore. Put everything else away so that you can get to that book on writing that's going to help you make your prose shine. Doesn't do any good if you don't use it. 
  2. Also, organize your books! You've bought more books than you've gotten around to reading, and now when you go to look at your shelves for that friend that wants a book recommendation in a certain genre, you're at a loss (What was that book again?). No need to alphabetize if you don't want to, grouping them by genre should be more than enough. 
  3. Put all the books you haven't read on one shelf so that you know what you need to work through. It gives a visual to that reading list. Bonus: take a look at your "unread" shelf before you go to the bookstore, it may stave off your need to buy 20 new books. 
  4. Throw away old rough drafts. Yes, I said it. These take up A LOT of room. It's great to be able to look back on your old work to see how you've progressed, but I've never met a writer who has come across an old MS and didn't sit there for a while reading over it. This is time wasted, folks. Besides, sometimes it can be depressing: "Wow, I used to think this was awesome! This is such crap! Maybe the stuff I think is gold now is really crap and I just don't realize it." Boo. No need to put that kind of black cloud over your head. 
  5. Buy a cork board. If you have one, take everything off and rehang it in a manner that makes sense. We all know you've added stuff through the year as a quick place to hang onto something we don't want to get lost. Take stuff from your desk that you "use for inspiration" and hang it up. I can personally attest to Command Hooks. Those things are great for organizing EVERYTHING. Probably my favorite thing about them is that I can remove them, use a new adhesive strip, and move it whenever I want. (Please note, I am not endorsed by their company.)
  6. Make your snack(s) easily accessible. I have a college mini fridge in my office that I got from someone who wasn't using it (my brother). Because, let's be honest, how many times have you gotten up to get a drink and gotten distracted? This is especially true for those who also take care of the house. Don't leave your office if you don't have to. 
This is my list. I would LOVE to hear more ideas and suggestions! Just leave the suggestion in the comments. 


  1. Just dropping by to say hi! I love your list.. I need to use it this weekend. Also I gave you a Dragon's Loyalty Award http://wp.me/p1PhaM-2o6

  2. Never occurred to me to do a Spring Cleaning for my writing and office! Usually I avoid cleaning of any sort, but this is one I can get behind. The only thing I might add is to better organize and store docs on your computer / desk top into appropriate files -- and as you would say, put them away because they are too tempting a distraction. I just recently put every piece of writing I have saved into their correctly labeled folders and moved them all into one nice, tidy file entitled "Writing Junk". And then I stored that on Drop Box so it's not right where I see it every time I sit down to write on my laptop... but it's still readily available should I need it for some reason. I'm going to get right on your list this coming week. Might even blog about it! This was a brilliant way to jump back into writing! Thanks for the tips! :)

    1. I definitely need to organize my computers' desktops. Then, I also need to get them all sorted on a cloud server seeing as I have three different computers where stuff is floating about. Two of the those computers really need to be retired. But, then I'd have to pull the hard drives and add them to the other pile of old hard drives that I need to sort through. Ugh, I prefer actual cleaning over virtual cleaning. But, you're right, I need to get on that one!

    2. FYI - I just wrote a blog post about this & gave you a shout out for inspiring me! Thanks for writing such a great post! :)