I look forward to spring cleaning and putting things in their place. It’s therapeutic for me.
-Kimora Lee Simmons
It’s getting to be that time, writers! The sun is out, the flowers are blooming, and we’re all coming out of our writing caves for spring. Between the new year and the warmer weather, everybody is up to some spring cleaning. What kinds of spring cleaning should writers be up to? Here are some ideas.
Things to Clean
- Old books – If you don’t plan to reread—because we all have our permanent collections—share your books with new readers. Consider donating to your local library. Locate book drives in your community or find organizations online that will take book donations. Check hospitals, shelters, and schools as well; some offices will take old magazines as well. Share books with friends and colleagues. Leave a few up-for-grabs books in the common area in your office. There are plenty of ways to spread bookish joy!
- Miscellaneous scraps – Sometimes we find inspiration in chaos, true enough, and Post-Its are a great tool for writers. If your work is scribbled and crossed out and a mess, it might not be a bad idea to start fresh. Transfer your notes and outlines to a clean copy, either typed up or written neatly, and consider making a clean copy of things you crossed out, too, just in case. Then you can shred and recycle your old notes; this will save lots of space wherever you keep your writing.
- Depleted resources – Dried up pens, sharpened-to-the-eraser pencils, empty printer ink cartridges—go through your writing tools and see what is ready to be recycled or thrown away. If necessary, replace old materials with new ones.
Things to Keep
- Ideas you didn’t like – Even if they didn’t make the final cut of your manuscript, old notes and scraps can still be usable for other projects. See my above notes on making a clean copy and recycling the clutter. Consider putting together a folder, physical or on your computer, of potential ideas that haven’t found a home in your work yet. You never know when inspiration will strike!
- Old drafts – If you printed out a copy of your work and marked it up, keep it in a folder or tied with elastic bands; if you’re working digitally, name your files as “Title DRAFT 1,” “Title DRAFT 2,” or something comparable. You never know when a deleted scene will be called back into the final cut. If nothing else, if you hit a wall, you can look back at an old draft and see how far you’ve come.
- Goofy writing things – I have a little dollhouse bookcase and a giant pink eraser where I write. Yes, they’re kind of silly, but they make me smile. I like having little writerly trinkets in my workspace. They remind me that even when the work gets tough, it’s a lot of fun, too. If you have a lot of stuff taking up space on your desk, it can be a distraction, so go through your little decorations and knick-knacks and pick two or three that inspire you or make you smile. For some knick-knacks, it may be time to go into storage or move along, but keep your favorites close.
Are you doing any writerly spring cleaning? What do you plan to keep or clean? Let me know!