Is Clutter Wrecking Your Creativity?

Does your study or studio ever get to the stage where the clutter stops you from working?

Are there books and papers piled so high on your desk, you can’t see your computer?

BusyIf this has NEVER happened to you, please share your secrets 🙂

But seriously, it’s not just the physical clutter that stops you from creating.

It can also be the mental clutter … the kind that goes on inside your head and your heart.

Recently, I co-founded KidLitVic2016, a conference in Melbourne in May attended by 160 delegates, 11 publishers and 1 literary agent.

We had talked about running a conference like this for a while because there was nothing of its kind in Melbourne.

Logo_no_lamp_text_sampleI came up with the name, KidLitVic, set up the website and Facebook Page. My partner set up the business name and bank account, and we were off and running.

In the 12 months leading up to the event, my inbox overflowed with conference emails, and my mind was full of tasks, meetings, websites, content development, media campaigns and all the other associated detail that goes with organising a conference.

KidLitVic2016 was an amazing experience. I loved every minute of it. I loved spending time with all the authors and illustrators who came. I loved meeting all the wonderful publishing professionals, and I loved seeing people walk away from the conference feeling like they had gained something and it had encouraged them and helped the with their careers.

But during that time there was little room in my head for much of anything else.

It made me realise just how important it is to make space in your head in order to create.

I don’t know about you, but I find that mental clutter is the hardest kind to get rid of – and it’s what most hinders my creativity.


Here are some things you can do to clear your mental clutter:

  1. Take a break from social media.
  2. Make a list of all your deadlines and things you have to do. That way you don’t have to store all this information in your head.
  3. Set up smart inboxes for your emails, so you can put aside those emails that don’t require your immediate attention. Just do a web search for “how to set up a smart mailbox” and you’ll find heaps of useful sites.
  4. Take a walk – there’s nothing like fresh air and movement to free your mind.
  5. Set aside free time for just being. Allow those creative ideas to come sneaking back.
  6. Go away on a retreat … away from all the things that are cluttering your mind. You don’t have to go far and it doesn’t have to be for long, (a granny flat in the backyard will do) but it does help create room for new ideas and inspiration.

After the conference was over, I was not only inspired by all the fabulous people I had met and the things I had learned, I also had free space in my head to immerse myself in my own work again.

If you have some tips on how you free the clutter from your life in order to create, I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to share them in the contents section of this post.

Happy writing 🙂



Writing is hard. There are more rejections than acceptances…there are times when you wonder whether you can do this…whether to keep going…whether it’s all worth it.

For me, it definitely is. There is nothing more rewarding than having someone love/be moved by/relate to what you have written.

Today I want to celebrate the success of three talented people who are very dear to me, who have worked so hard at their writing – and never given up.

Kat Apel and Karen Collum at the 2010 CYA Conference


My wonderful writerly friend, Kat Apel has had some setbacks in her writing recently so it was thrilling to see her take out the published author first place in this year’s CYA competition.

Kat has an inspiring post up at her blog about what this win means to her. She is a talented author who writes from the heart and her work deserves to be read. I hope she finds a publisher soon for her fabulous winning verse novel, Bully on the Bus.

Writing friendships are so important to keep us on track and motivated – and Kat and Karen Collum are two of the best friends a write could have.

Karen is also someone who works hard at her writing, looking after four young children at the same time …and often going without sleep.

Congratulations Karen on coming second in the CYA comp. I was very excited to come third in this category and stand on the ‘virtual podium’ alongside these two amazing ladies.


Many of you will know Jackie as the editor of PIO…a fabulous resource for kid’s writers in Australia. Jackie is also a wonderful poet. (You can find out more about her at her blog)

Jackie has kept writing and entertaining kids and adults with her hilarious poetry for years so it’s wonderful to be able to congratulate her on having her first picture book accepted by Walker Books. I can’t wait to read it.

Jackie has written a fabulous post, Never Give Up. Read her inspiring story here


Proud Mum alert warning here!

The third writer whose success I wanted to celebrate is my son, Nick who also placed in the CYA competition (Hatchlings) with his comedy adventure novel, Family Issues.

Now 13, Nick started this novel when he was 11 and is currently on his fourth rewrite. I am so proud of his persistence and I love the honest and lively way he writes.


I’m so proud and honoured to know these fabulous writers and I know that their success is a combination of talent and sheer hard work.

Here are some tips to help you when the going gets tough:

  1. Realise that you are not alone…every writer goes through ‘low points’. These are what make the ‘high points’ so special.
  2. Accept that writing is hard and subjective and just because your work gets rejected, that’s one person’s opinion and someone else may love it.
  3. Keep writing
  4. Keep writing
  5. Keep writing
  6. Find a writing buddy or group (real or virtual) that you can share your disappointments and successes with. It really helps to both vent and to celebrate
  7. If the words aren’t coming, start something new. Work on something you are excited about.
  8. Don’t expect overnight success but know that talent, hard work and persistence does pay off.
  9. Go to conferences and writing workshops where you will find yourself being inspired by other writers.
  10. Measure your success by creating something you are happy with. Don’t base your feelings of self-worth on the opinions of other people.

Happy writing and wishing you much writerly success:)



In a recent blog post, writer and illustrator Katherine Battersby described inspiration as “a certain kind of overwhelming feeling – often when looking at something inspiring someone has created. It’s like a bigness within me.”

I know exactly what she means. It’s a feeling I’ve been getting all week when I look at the amazing characters and stories created by kids at my Heroes and Villains workshops.

It’s an indescribable feeling of admiration for their creativity, innovativeness and the enthusiasm for their writing and the stories they are creating. It’s a feeling of privilege that they are letting me into their creative world, and asking me to help them find their way.

Today’s “Heroes” and “Villains” certainly got into character when acting out the scenarios I had created to identify what characteristics make up a hero and what is it that makes someone a villain?

I’m happy to report that my walk to the State Library was inspirational again this morning and I now know how one of my characters is going to meet their ‘sticky’ end.

My MC is also making her presence very strongly felt so I can feel a big writing week coming on once my workshops are finished. Although I’ll be sad for them to be over, my MC won’t be. She is becoming very impatient to have  her story told:-)

Planning on immersing myself in plot and character interviews this afternoon.

Happy writing.



I wasn’t going to blog again for 2009, but this one couldn’t wait till next year.

My fourth book comes out in 2010 and the more I write, the more I realise that not only am I lucky enough to do what I love, but I am also fortunate to have such creative, wonderful and generous spirited colleagues.

Writers are beautiful people. In spite of having their own deadlines to meet, their own anxieties waiting for responses, acceptances, publication etc, they are always prepared to put their pen or keyboard aside to help another writer – either tell their story, promote their story or inspire others.

Too many people to mention have supported me and Letters to Leonardo on their blogs and review sites this year – and for this I am very grateful.

But in the last two days, in the twilight of 2009 two writers I have never met have gone to extraordinary lengths on their blogs to help me tell my story.

Check out their posts at:

Steph Bowe’s blog:


John Rountree’s blog:

Love What You Write & Believe in Yourself… « MUSETRACKS

So thanks again to all my writing and publishing colleagues, my family and friends for your wonderful support this year.

Wishing you all health, happiness and success for 2010 and hoping that my stories will continue to entertain and inspire you.



In August this year, I started working with a group of very enthusiastic Year 6 to 8 Victorian students, all keen to hone their writing skills.

We talked setting, we talked story ideas – we talked about everything writerly. We used butcher’s paper to build a story from scratch – brainstormed ideas then arranged them into a logical sequence. We talked about how character inspires plot, and we explored the plot arc – reached for the high point in the story where all the action culminates in something gripping for the reader.

What a wonderful experience it was for me to work with such inspiring young writers. Each and every student had their own writing style – each had an obvious talent for writing.

At the end of the seven 1 1/2 hour sessions, we had produced an anthology, Our World & Beyond, which all the students could be proud of. Stories ranged from around 3,000 to 5,000 words and students spent a great deal of time writing and editing between our sessions.

Of course the odd vampire made its way into the book – and yes there was romance – and plenty of action. But every story featured well developed characters, original story lines and great writing.

It was so much fun for me to work on this project and witness such persistence, and the dedication of young writers to their craft.

Clearly, there is plenty of young Australian writing talent just waiting for the opportunity to emerge.


Tips for young writers can be found at my blog