There’s nothing I love more than walking into a well-organized house. (Hm? Wish that was the fairy tale I lived. Anyway.) And I’d say ditto for reading material. Take a look at what organizing experts say and how these principles can apply to writing.
Less is More.
Our house hunting escapade landed me a premium tour with the clutter king’s things. Many houses passed in and out of my memory; I don’t remember most of them.
Only this one made me cringe.
Every inch of wall and anything perpendicular to it was caked with clutter. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what the wall color was. Trinkets and treasures and pictures and fixtures all muffled the layout of the house. The structure was swallowed up in the decorations. It would take a small U-Haul to chuck out only the wall decorations.
I’ve never seen anything like it. Ever.
My jaw hung in awe. My eyes bulged; my stomach rolled. I was being visually crushed and smooshed. A little anxiety settled in. I felt completely insignificant there. I was not a guest but a victim on a quest to get out of there.
Despite the well planned layout and structure of the home, which was nice (now that I think about it), it was not picked. The overabundance of things overshadowed the potential.
Adapted Writing Tip:
Writing deserves the same. Don’t overcrowd what you are trying to say with trinkets and treasures of words. Don’t cover every surface with explanations and ideas. Showcase just one thing and let it stand alone as a focal point. I think you’ll agree with the experts: it’s never a good idea to cram too much into one space.
We get tempted to write everything into one location: backstory, character details, mishaps, and recaps. Readers won’t pick it. And a publisher most definitely won’t. Use less words, but more powerful images.
My favorite example is a quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.”
One of the best advices I’ve come across from organizing experts is to do little things daily. I have found that when I regularly organize one or two areas a day my house feels cleaner and my grin is more genuine. At first it may feel overwhelming but I guarantee that in a week or two you will start to see the vision of it.
The key to this tip is consistency. You won’t look at your house (or writing) with all the work that needs to be done but you will know that there is a closet that looks great… give it time and the rest will follow.
On a daily basis, I usually only tackle one shelf, one drawer, or one area. It only takes about 10- 15 minutes. And if I get done extra early I do a surprise attack on another shelf. I’m defeating my enemy one little territory at a time.
Adapted Writing Tip:
In the mad dash of writing things can get a little messy. Take just one little paragraph in your writing and organize it. Add more meaning. Cut it, paste it, perfect it. It should only take a few minutes. Try it.
I like to print one page of my current project and carry it with me. I work on it at doctor appointments, kid collecting feats, and I want to try it at the grocery store line (it’s on my bucket list).
Do daily surprise attacks and see how this is a great winning strategy.
Avoid Collecting Junk.
Habits get us into trouble. I have this awesome magnetic force field to clearance racks. (Not sure if it’s a genetic defect or a learned trait yet.) Anyway, I’ve bought too many things that never get used because I couldn’t pass up the deal. Like that ugly caramel end table with bed rails. Seriously. Who needs intermittent rails on an end table? They must have owned monsters for kids.
I bought it anyway.
It became a mistake that cringed my confidence each time I stepped into the room with the bed rail table. But, this bad move made me think through future purchases. I head into a buying spree with knowing beforehand what I want or need. I often write it down to keep me focused. And that one little tip has saved me a lot of troubles of junk collecting: know what you want.
Adapted Writing Tip:
Think through a purpose before filling your paper with junk words. Don’t just aim for word count. Have a purpose to go with it. Simply post the purpose of your book or writing piece and stay focused to that aim. If you know what you want beforehand you will enjoy your rewriting so much more. And it keeps you from collecting a lot of junk before getting to what you want. Stop staring at a dump yard with only a few treasures in it, and start growing a diamond tree with just a few little branches that need trimming.
Avoid the clutter king’s ways, organize daily, and know what you want. These simple tips will help you be well on your way to writing a piece that you and others fall in love with (…and living happily ever after).
House organizing and writing live by the same standards. What areas could use a little more focus in your writing?