Writing Hint #20 Get rid of clutter

I have declared the year 2007 as The Year to Get Rid of Clutter.

I currently do most of my writing in a room that used to be my son’s bedroom. When he left for university and married a few years later we converted this room into our office. Previously a corner of our own bedroom was the office area. Over the last ten years this “new” office has been well used. And it shows.

The clutter is – well, to be really honest – disgusting. Some writing magazines and occasionally a newspaper will feature author’s writing rooms, with the said writer posed romantically at his or her desk being very productive. Often these rooms are lined with bookshelves and everything seems so neat and proper. I can guarantee that each one of them had weeks of warning before the photographer arrived. They always seem so productive and sterile. I can also guarantee that reality is far from this pretty picture.

I have decided to start getting rid of all the clutter in my office. This is my theory: get rid of all that clutter and that will free my mind and energy so that it can be channelled into more creative pursuits.

Like writing.

So last week I started in ernest. The first object of my enthusiasm was the 30cm high pile of bank statements, old accounts (I was pleased to find that all had been paid), notes, jottings, miscellaneous pieces of paper, the odd magazine and the like. Many were filed in the nearby filing cabinet (which sadly also needs my attention). Some were shredded. In fact, hundreds of sheets went through the poor little shredder.

The next object of my newly found cleanliness fetish was the bookshelf above my desk. I have a lineup of a dozen or so magazine boxes. They have been crammed to overflowing with old magazines. Why I was keeping all those writing magazines I do not know. I had read every one of them. Some were more than ten years old. In a crazy wave of renewed enthusiasm to get rid of clutter I threw most of them out. Well – they are currently in a big box ready to take to a paper recycling centre.

Some of these magazines I did keep. The most recent two or three. Those which featured some of my writing were also kept. (Note to self: build an archives shed out in the back of the garage.) I also trolled through some for interesting articles to pull out for rereading. Not too many. They will also be shredded if I don’t use them in the next few weeks.

The next centre of attention was the comfortable chair near my desk. It is used for reading (and snoozing in when I get tired). It was covered in books, newspapers, unread magazines, travel brochures, maps, more accounts waiting to be filed and… well, you get the picture.

Still to be done:

  • Several boxes of assorted papers, folders, first drafts, correspondence and the like.
  • A large pile of unread newspaper literary pages.
  • A larger pile of unread literary, travel and nature magazines.
  • A daunting gathering of unread books on the bookshelves behind my desk.
  • An old, rarely used desktop PC that hasn’t been fired up for about six months. It dominates my desk; it needs to be archived too.

All this just makes me feel tired.

I think I need a little snooze – but my comfy chair still has a few things on it and there is no room on the floor.

Oh, the floor is cluttered too.


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