Writer habits: day 11- declutter

Clutter clutter everywhere and not a space to think. The normal days of life are full of things that cling to me, like cat hair to velcro. Between being a dad, a husband, working full time, trying to maintain relationships with other friends and family, and trying to be present to my Jesus community… well that’s a lot of places to pick up clinging thoughts, nagging doubts, heavy concerns, funny moments and the rest of life that quickly becomes clutter in the corners of my being.

My work space also tends to get this way. Between books I swear I am going to get around to reading, papers I’ve scribbled on, computer paraphernalia, and coffee cups, it can get messy. I prefer lived in, but whatever.

Making Space

Clutter isn’t bad, but the good stuff sometimes get’s buried underneath. The discipline of making space, clearing off a desk, clearing my head, stilling my heart… these are all ways to clear out the clutter and find what is germinating underneath. Clutter can be a mulch, growing things under it’s seemingly chaotic mess. But if those shoots and buds dont eventually get some air, light, and some space, they die out, decompose, and add to the clutter.

Sometimes making space for the growing words is as simple sprucing up the surrounding. Five or ten minuets of organizing and throwing out the scraps (and trash) in my work space can do a world of good. Other times, it’s more about what I’m writing. Taking the time to throw out the scraps (and trash) helps me see the real words I’ve written.

Clearing clutter can be a warm up to the real work. Free writing about the clutter in my emotions is sometimes priming the pump and clearing log jam for the flow of words. Often I’m surprised at the gems I find even as I’m shaking out my cluttered head.

Opening the windows,  clearing the cobwebs, and blowing out the dust, reclaiming my space for my passion… this is what clearing clutter is really about.  Clutter happens,  it often is the sign of works in progress. However,  if left to accumulate unchecked it quickly becomes a trash heap.

Keeping the Garden

The clutter can create fertile ground for my words to grow, or it can choke my vision and suffocate my purpose for writing. The difference is in the effort and time I take to clear some space, prune my words, and control the clutter. Growing words. That is what this practicing in public is all about. Clutter has a place in my creative process, but there is a difference between a compost pile and a heap of decaying garbage.

No matter what kind of head, heart, or work space I am currently in, I don’t want my writing to be a clutter of words. I want to talk clearly about my ideas, ask questions that are pertinent, and have some sort of cohesion to my practice. Clearing the clutter can help me see the point of the thoughts I’m putting on the page. Making space to write the words well forces me to look at the words themselves. Making space in the clutter helps me edit my words. Instead of saying a fluffy bunch of not really anything, I can get to the point. And that is the point of growing words, to say something I believe is worth saying, something I think you need to hear. Too much clutter stagnates my work as well as fills your ears with meaningless words.

So I make space, push back the clutter, clean it all up, but not just to be orderly. I need to make this part of my practice so that the seedlings of ideas can grow it mighty oaks of words worth climbing on. I edit, refine, and prune those words so that you don’t miss the fact that this is a good tree to climb. I clear the clutter so that the graden of words I am laying down can produce much fruit.

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