Decluttering for Writers

So, have you been following the decluttering craze? I have, and it took me a while, but I realised why it calls to me so strongly. It was after I read a few articles about famous male writers like Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway that I realised why I have thrown so much energy into decluttering (and, let’s be honest, reading decluttering blogs and drooling over ‘after’ photos on Pinterest). These highly lauded, canonised writers had households full of women to tidy up after them. I don’t. In fact, the reverse is true – I have a family that tend to leave bits and pieces everywhere. Now, I’ll say upfront my family are wonderful at doing allocated jobs – putting away the dishes from the dishwasher, feeding our crazy pets, the daily tedium of letting the chickens out and putting them back to bed… But somehow, that surface clutter always keeps trying to creep in there. Computers on the kitchen table. Clothes draped over chairs. Notepads dropped on every flat space.

I love that my family are creative and always onto the next thing. But once that accumulation of clutter starts, it can be hard to stop, and then you (I!) get to the point where it is driving me nuts. Where I realise I can’t get on with my writing because there’s nowhere to put my laptop, or too much dust for the asthmatic family members. Where the call of clutter on my brainspace is too strong. Now, that takes a while because I’m not keen on housework. But it does reach a point where a mighty clean needs to happen. And I don’t want to be spending my time cleaning – I want to be spending my time writing.

One of the key ideas in decluttering is that everything has its place, and should be put back there when not in use. Great idea, doesn’t always works. If there’s too much stuff for the available space things tend to get shoved in, then spill out, or they’re just left lying around. So it makes a lot of sense to me to get rid of the stuff that’s just taking up space, getting shifted around, requiring cleaning or mending or dusting but not really loved or used. This may seem ridiculously domestic of me, but it’s actually the opposite. The less stuff I have, and those around me have, the less time we need to spend organising it, and therefore the more time we have for what really matters – like writing (or *insert whatever your passion is here*).  Now it is possible to write in a chaotic space, but I’m not that person. It is impossible to ignore the piles around you, but I am not that person. (Inspirational Lord of the Rings speech reference – tick!).

So, getting rid of stuff helps. Then you can teach people to put their stuff away… An accompanying issue with this is teaching everyone in the family how to cook, so you don’t have to stop writing that incredible scene to put nachos together, but perhaps that’s another blog for another day.