Decluttering Your Writing Life

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By Jan Drexler

Writing a book is a difficult task with thousands of details to keep track of. Just as we find it nearly impossible to navigate in a cluttered room, it’s hard to bring a story out of a cluttered mind.

If you have problems concentrating on your story or sticking to your task, you may need to down-size your brain’s clutter – to simplify your thought-world.

Try these tips:

1) Maybe your clutter is from too many ideas roaming around in your head. One of the ways my brain procrastinates when I’m trying to work on my WIP is to pull me toward that bright shiny new story idea that popped into my head while I was in the shower or walking the dogs. That idea hovers out there, taunting me, pulling my focus away from my WIP. (Squirrel, anyone?)

How can you combat this? When a story idea comes to you, write it down. I keep a file on my computer of story notes for future books. Once it’s in that file, I can tell my brain to focus. That idea isn’t going anywhere, and I don’t have to actively remember it. Then the path is clear for the story I’m supposed to be writing.

2) Do you have too many ongoing stories? This is a problem if you’re in the habit of getting a few chapters into your book, stopping right where the writing starts to become work, and starting a new story. I know people who do this – you may be one of them! You may have five or six projects started. You tell yourself they are all “ongoing,” but you need to admit it: You are addicted to story beginnings!

All those story beginnings become clutter. I used to quilt, and I still have a couple partially finished quilts in storage. I used to sew, and I still have patterns and fabric. I love to knit, but that has gone by the wayside as I’ve found a new stitching addiction. Consequently, my storage areas are cluttered with yarn, fabric, patterns, sewing notions, books, and half-finished projects. Do you get the picture?

Simplify your life by taking each project and deciding: Do I love this enough to work on it to the end? If not, store that file on your computer and forget about it. Do that with each book beginning until you are down to one – the one you love and are willing to work on until you reach the end. And don’t start anything new until you reach that point!

3) Is your writing life too hectic? When we’re trying to make a name for ourselves as writers – trying to establish our platform – it is easy to take on too many obligations. Blog appearances, critique groups, newsletters, and social media can steal your time and clutter your thought processes. Yes, you need to be active on-line and in your critique group, but you also need to be careful.

Decide what works best for you and limit your participation in everything else. Every few months, I reevaluate. Am I spending too much time online? Visiting too many blogs? Am I spending more time critiquing other writers’ work than producing my own? Am I spending too much time on Facebook or other social media? (The answer to that one is always “yes!”)

We all know that simplifying our lives gives us more freedom, but it can be a hard thing to do. Keep the goal in mind – a writing life that is organized and enjoyable.

I’m right there with you. We can make it!

Downsizing your brain’s clutter to simplify your writing life! @JanDrexler #ACFWBlogs #amwriting Click To Tweet

Jan Drexler’s ancestors were among the first Amish immigrants in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan live in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing extended family. She writes historical Amish fiction and is published by Revell and Love Inspired.




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