Spring Cleaning, Writer Style

Thursday, March 29, 2018
I’m a big believer in spring cleaning.

That is, I believe in the concept. The major scrub-till-you-drop cleaning itself, not so much. Still, I enjoy that starting-fresh-feeling that comes along with even the littlest bit of tossing, organizing, and spiffing up. So I apply my version of spring cleaning to my writing business, and when I’m done, I feel pretty good. And I bet you will, too.

The Tossing

If I don’t do anything else at the end of a long winter (and yes, I live in the South so maybe it’s just two and a half months, but it feels at least three months), I toss all the winter clothes I didn’t wear. The too-short jeans, the shoes that pinch my toes, the chartreuse coat that was a bargain but makes me look sallow. If I didn’t wear it for an entire season (so let’s say five months because yeah, fall can be brisk in the South, y’all), then it’s got to go. I also toss the much-loved clothes that have seen better days because let’s face it. One more spin in the washing machine, and I’ve got nothing but rags.

Gosh, it’s exhilarating to have all that space in closets and drawers! And you can have that kind of space in your inbox, your bookshelves, and your files. If you have an email that you haven’t even opened in four months, delete it. If your bookshelves are sagging with outdated reference books (Welcome to Windows XL anyone?), donate them. And those files crammed with clippings on arts and crafts ideas for your kidders (the last of whom just graduated college)? Shred ‘em.

The Organizing

Come spring, I like to tackle those spots that tend to get jam-packed and messy, like the linen closet or the garage or the junk drawer. In all these years, I don’t quite understand why these spots get so messy. I just know that when I see pollen, my brain says, “HOW did all this stuff get in such disarray in my garage (or linen closet or junk drawer)?”

Okay, I don’t say disarray. You can imagine what I really say. The point is, it’s stuff I need so I get to work organizing. And we writers run into this sort of disarray all the time. Which ultimately ends up costing us lots more of our precious writing time. So take an afternoon, put on some music you love, and organize those notes for your novel/memoir/non-fiction picture book. Attack your desk and don’t give up till you can actually see your desk. And those emails that you have read and are truly important but still languishing in your inbox? Organize files in your inbox—and be specific!—so that those emails can be filed and retrieved easily when you need them.

And let me just say this about the junk drawer: I don’t organize it; I don’t open it unless I want to put junk in it. I suggest you do the same.

The Spiffing Up

Now it’s time for a little spiffing up, like maybe a new coat of paint on a door or washing the dust off the baseboards or planting annuals in the flower bed. I’m sure lots of people actually do that sort of thing. But after the tossing and the organizing, I’m flat wore out. About all I can muster is the spiffing up of my writer stuff.

So I’ll get new ink cartridges for the printer so I can have color pages again. And I’ll replace all my fancy gel fine point pens because I like writing in my journal in purples, greens, and light blue. How you spiff up your writing business is up to you, as long as it makes you smile. Because the spiffing up part of spring cleaning comes last and that’s definitely something to smile about!

~ Cathy C. Hall


Margo Dill said...

I like this idea of thinking about spring cleaning as a writer. I was just on spring break for a few days with Katie and we did a little actual spring cleaning--cleaned out some drawers and reorganized her room and mine. She said she loved her room now. But I can see some places I could spring clean my writing!

Pat Wahler said...

Spring cleaning is upon us, and you are absolutely correct. My writing space could use some serious spiffing up.


Cathy C. Hall said...

Yay, y'all! I think spring cleaning is easier than getting ourselves organized in January.

Well, maybe not easier, but definitely a bit more cheerful!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I just attacked my office and my desk is completely clear! It's a fresh clean feeling. I also just attacked my entire house, actually, because we have guests staying with us. :) I organized all my writing files onto icloud so I can access them anywhere. But email is another story that I don't think I'll ever be able to tame. I tackle it every day, but it's years of pile up. =/

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Always with the good advice. :) Since our big move last year we're ahead of the spring cleaning game a little bit. All that downsizing really took care of things. BUT, in order to stay on top of it, everything you say is stuff that should, and will, be done. If we don't keep after it, it will only be worse next year. I hadn't fully put together the writer end of it, but you're right about that. I see a new notebook and pens in my future. :)

Renee Roberson said...

Thanks for the gentle nudge, Cathy. I too love tackling projects in the spring for some reason! My office is in need of some serious love. My hubby has been using our home office a lot for work so bills have piled up that need to be filed, my manuscript pages are shoved to one side, and my e-mail is out of control. I'm going to try and tackle some of the mess this week!

Linda O'Connell said...

I have put off cleaning the piles on my desk since Christmas. I thought I'd wait until the yellow pollen flies before I do it, but you have inspired me to do it TODAY.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I'm very glad y'all are feeling the nudge! Just remember, the music is an important part of the spring cleaning thing. Also, Easter basket treats. :-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Music IS important. One of my favorite to clean to--a 3-record set of Diana Ross and the Supremes. The beat of the uptempo songs keeps me moving and motivated.

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