Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 11 - Declutter

Today is Day 11 of Jeff Goins' Great Writers series and the word of the day is DECLUTTER

Jeff calls this cutting the crap.
Bottom line: There’s a lot of junk that gets in the way of good writing. And you have to kill it. Get rid of it. Totally annihilate it.

If you are going to write well, you must make your writing clean. You must get rid of the clutter.

The two most important ways to do this are:
Clean your workspace
Before you can get to work, you’ve got to get your tools in order.
Before you can do the work of creating anything, you’ve got to clear off the desk and get your stuff in order. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but your mess isn’t helping you. It’s not contributing to the creative. And you need to stop hiding behind it.

Get rid of non-essentials
Jeff is talking about the actual writing here. Erase all the lazy words and phrases, the pieces of prose that fluff up your writing but add nothing to the core content.

As Jeff (and Metallica) say Kill ‘em, kill ‘em all.

These fancy turns of phrase and flower pieces of prose distracting the reader from what you really want to say. And frankly, you don’t have time for them.

The challenge is to do two things:
Clean up your space. Spend some time (at least five minutes, but no more than 30) doing the following: clear off the desk, sharpen your pencils, put your files in order, take out the trash, wash the dishes, whatever. Do what you need to do to feel better about the place where you do your work.
Cut your writing down to its purest essence. Take away everything but exactly what you want to say. Then say what you have to say and be done with it.

I have been waiting in anticipation for this post because it is one of the most important to me.  I can't work if I look around me and see a mess.  It drives me crazy!  The entire time I am trying to concentrate on work I think, "I really need to vaccum", "I should put all those papers away", etc.
And I have seen during the flash fiction pieces I have written lately that I add a lot of unnecessary works.  I always try to go back and declutter there as well.

What about you?


  1. Hi Heather,
    I always find that keeping the workspace around where I write, in fact the whole house, if possible, makes me feel more prepared to write my disjointed, rambling musings.
    It's always good to get your writing down to its purest essence. There are too many writers, I feel, have over packed sentences with too many words. The most important thing, as you will know, is to capture and hold the reader's attention from the very first sentence.
    Happy writing to you.

  2. I didn't even know this part of the challenge was coming, and I cleaned out my workspace yesterday. Too much of my husband's and son's stuff laying around. I like a clean area too. Not just the desk, but all around me.