Some people might see tidying up as procrastination to delay starting that new project, but I find that if I’m embarking on a new work I need to clean my workspace, and file away old ideas, old manuscripts.
As Jeff Goins says on his Writer’s blog.
“The mess is not inevitable. It is not cute or idiosyncratic. It is a foe, and it is killing your art.”
I am not a tidy person by nature, so cleaning up is a conscious decision by me to focus on a new work. It’s a symbol of my intent, but it’s also a way of narrowing my field of view – eliminating distractions.
I’m often tempted to leap into a new project, can’t wait to get started, but I find a life planning day is just as important as planning what will happen in my story.
And the two are often interconnected. While I’m decluttering the physical environment around me, I often find it helps to declutter my brain. I’m not a big fan of housework – it’s a necessary evil.
But sometimes the lapping of soapy dishwater around my hands can bring on a wave of new ideas for my new story, can transport me to a different world.
CLEARING THE DECKS
Here are my tips for freeing up your creative space and mind so you can launch whole-heartedly into that new project.
1, Tidy up your creative space and put away the things that aren’t relevant to your new project.
2. Clear a wall space for your plot planner, or any pictures you might want to display that are relevant to your story..
3. Clear the desktop on your computer – and make a new folder so that everything relating to your new project can be clearly filed away and easily found later. Put a footer on your manuscript that’s the same as the file name – and date it – e.g. ‘May 2015’ and this will help you find it later. It mightn’t seem important now, but if you don’t do this, ten drafts into the story, you could be tearing your hair out.
4. Tidy your house surrounds so you can’t use ‘cleaning up’ as an excuse for procrastination.
5. Take a long walk and clear your mind in readiness to embark on that new project.
6. Eliminate electronic distractions.
7. Eliminate social media distractions.
8. If you find it difficult to work on the computer and not be distracted, then write your first draft long hand. I have started doing this anyway as I find it really helps me to immerse myself in my story.
9. Use ‘Do not disturb’ signs or whatever it takes to let other members of your household know that you are seriously writing :). (It might take them a while to get into the habit of taking this seriously, but it’s worth persevering.)
10. Do not answer the phone (unless you’re expecting an urgent call) – that’s what we have answering machines for. And people can always ring back. In the days before mobile phones, people had to ‘wait’ for you to respond. You don’t have to respond to everything straight away.
If your current work in progress has stalled or you have writer’s block, you might find that decluttering your work environment can help declutter your mind and get you going again.
I’d love to hear your comments on how you ‘clear the decks’ in preparation for a new project.