De-clutter, write or study?
Ever since I joined my local Buy Nothing group it’s been a toss-up between devoting time to de-cluttering my home or to writing. Sandwiched in-between the two is a course on photography I studied in six weeks – all six modules crammed with high-end, professional information, intensive and challenging. (You can read my initial response to the course here.)
In the process of de-cluttering – hopefully to clear my mind as much as it is to clear my home of unused ‘stuff’ – I get caught up in the process of sorting, taking photos of items I no longer use, posting them on the Buy Nothing Facebook page (and messing the post up no less than 3 times trying to be ultra-clever, so wasting precious time), writing out tickets for people who are collecting items, chatting to one or two in the process – after all, part of the idea is to meet locals – and so it goes on.
I know we all have our excuses for not writing yet as I say, de-cluttering the home is beneficial to making way for new thoughts. It’s the trend and widely acclaimed. Just type ‘declutter’ into Google to see a myriad of proponents, such as Mary Kondo.
But in devoting nearly all my time to de-cluttering, I feel anxiety build-up. I want to achieve all my goals, especially with my writing. Grumpy begins to walk in the door. Over coffee, a dear friend asked me why I wasn’t writing, and my admission and rationalisation hit me.
Sure, you can’t do everything. Indeed you can’t! De-cluttering my kitchen took a full weekend. Huge chunks of time I’d usually use for social media posts and writing blog posts disappeared. What about ‘actual’ writing, that is, of short stories or my novel. (That’s a novel idea! Pun intended. I heard you groan.) When I had spare time I studied my photography course.
The key to writing, that is, to keeping Grumpy at bay and letting Happy walk in the door of my mind, is to write every single day. It’s often promoted by writers as the best way to write! Yet, it’s way too easy to be distracted from doing just that. Possibly because I do write from home. I do housework in the breaks. The breaks get longer – two days long!
Scheduling in time to write needs to be NON Negotiable!
A day to just write – or a half day – or an hour – or ….
Yes, the day, time and duration can be fluid. For example, Monday morning was always my day and time to write after a busy weekend focussing on family. However, a family member currently needs help every other Monday, so I re-schedule that day to another one in the week. After getting into a routine with it being on a Monday, the change rattles the brain. Grumpy gets a look in! But with another day to look forward to, all the in-between stuff done – housework, coffees with girlfriends, meetings and so on, done – Happy swings through the door.
Each week here’s what I need to do:
1. Schedule a non-negotiable people-free writing day. It reminds me of Pupil Free Days at school. As a teacher I got so much done without the distraction of students. Argh you say, as a mother, with kids underfoot, argh! I feel for you! I was, and remain, a mother, too! Yet, without time to set our minds to the task of teaching – and now as a writer, to writing – the task simply cannot be done as well as it could be. Ask any writer!
2. Heed Julia Cameron’s advice in The Artist’s Way and write a journal every day. It clears the head of cluttering thoughts. Happy smiles.
3. Plan my novella series and see if I can crack the code for writing what I have in mind. (It’s a secret! If I tell you, I’ll lose confidence and not do it. I will feel the weight of expectation (real or imagined) and will procrastinate till the cows come home!)
4. Grab my social media note book and scribble down the numerous ideas that come to mind, sometimes with content outlines. This might take away that sense of panic about ‘what can I write?’ I actually have lists already but I want fresh ideas as well.
5. Read, make notes and put into practice hints and tips from Robin Houghton’s ‘blogging for writers’ which I purchased at the Save the Children Book Fair recently. (You can read more about that in my recent newsletter via the the link below.)
So, Clayton’s blog post #2 is mostly about the imperative to set time aside to write – every day – regardless of what else is happening in my life. Thank you to my dear writer friends who encourage me – over coffee – to get on with it!
Acknowledgements: Images from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are from the edition published by Dean & Son Ltd, London, 1954.