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Monday, April 2, 2012

Uncluttering My Mind

by Paty Jager

My writing area
I’ve found that writing comes easier if I unclutter my mind. 

To do this I write a list of the things I need to do that pertain to writing. Writing blogs, preparing for a blog tour, promotion, research…all these things need to be tackled and either written or placed in order of need. Once I’ve determined what has to be written now and what can wait, I can then write what needs done and then focus on my work in progress.

I have a dry erase board that I write down the blogs I need to write and the topics. As I get them done I erase the blog and send them off to the blog moderator.

Another thing that clears my mind and helps me write is to clear my writing area of any research books, maps, or other items that don’t pertain to the WIP. I can get easily distracted and if the only items around me have to do with what I need to write then I can stay on task and get the words on the pages and keep the story moving in a forward motion. But set a book about Gunslingers on my stack of books about Aztec ruins and I get pulled toward the gunslingers and forget the sacrifices and bloodletting that moments before had me enthralled.  Yes, I’m like a magpie and forget my goal if a shiny new object catches my attention.  Especially if I’m struggling with the story I’m working on. I can get distracted easier.

I participated in a Feng Shui workshop for writers several years ago and the thing that helped me the most was the fact you need a tidy area to work to keep your thoughts unclouded. I use that as a means to keep my space as clutter free as possible most of the time. With only my working research and necessary items on my desk.

I also can’t write if I have an event coming up unless I’ve taken care of all the details for the event. Books boxed up, posters made, newsletter sign up made, bookmarks, give-a-ways ready.  Once all that is settled then I can put my mind back in the story.

Even though I beat myself up over not making self imposed deadlines, I can’t work on a WIP until I’ve cleared my mind of other tasks.

What about you? Can you write if your writing life is in chaos or do you need a semblance of order?


10 comments:

terripatrick said...

I'm the same way. There is some perpetual clutter in my office, but it's behind my chair so not in my line of sight.

Paty Jager said...

Terri, that's a good problem solver.. out of sight out of mind. ;)

chandragay said...

I saw your link on Twitter and decided to subscribe to your blog. Yay !!!

Christine Young said...

I agree, I have to have all of the little things that are cluttering my mind finished before I can write.

Judith Ashley said...

I need a semblance of order but to someone else it may seem cluttered (lol). I do have to have my life somewhat organized - the load of laundry in (but heaven help me if I think I'll boil up some eggs - the smell of burned eggs does bring me out of my story no matter where I am in it), my morning routine completed means my writing will be more productive.

I'm an inveterate list maker and that gives me the illusion that I've made order out of the chaos that can be my life.

Diana Mcc. said...

I'm the same as you, Paty, I need my clutter cleaned up before I can concentrate on writing. Especially now that my writing area consists of a very small computer stand and a shelf of books in the closet. Any extra stickies or papers next to my laptop is just too annoying.

Good Post! Like your writing area!

Paty Jager said...

Hey Chandra! Come on in we love to have more people read our blog!

Hi Chris, Thanks for commenting.

Judith, I know exactly what you're talking about. I've burnt more eggs and beans the last year than I have in my life! I start them and think I"ll catch it and then get immersed in my writing and forget until I smell them burning!

Thanks, Diana!

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

LOL, Paty! If I had to clean up my office before I wrote, I wouldn't be writing for weeks! I like the idea of the mess behind the chair. If my immediate area is fairly clear, I'm good.

I also have a bit of the magpie personality of "new! shiny!" but am doing better about keeping that in check.

But cleaning up my office is still on my infamous "to do" database. Just keeps getting pushed down. :)

Paty Jager said...

Genene, You need to write so I guess you better leave the clutter be. *grin* I like that you have clean your office on your "to do" database.

Sarah Raplee said...

At least once a year my office gets uncluttered and organized, but it never stays that way. Like Judith, I use lists to keep my work and chores organized.

I'm lucky in that wrote my first book in a busy hospital cafeteria, which trained me to tune out distractions and to focus. I try not to get involved in anything else before my morning writing sessions.

That's how I prioritize my work-along with being flexible so I can take advantage of whatever time is available on days I can't write first thing in the morning.

I believe the clutter/no clutter continuum is analogous to the plotter/pantser continuum. The trick is to figure out where you fall along the line and try out different strategies to find what works for you.