Friday, 18 July 2014

Paring Down

In my writing I tend to edit out all the "unnecessary" stuff, the too-much detail, the unnecessary subplot, anything that slows down the pace, or bores the reader, etc.

The other day I was trying to tidy up a scene that dragged, and I couldn't do it.  I knew I had to cut stuff out, but I couldn't let go.

In frustration, I shut my laptop and looked about my office.

No wonder I was having trouble writing. My office was full of junk. (How'd that get in there?)

I'd become lazy and over-attached. I'd forgotten my own rules regarding stuff justifying its purpose.

Rules for Keeping Stuff

  1. Do I have an actual, planned, scheduled use for it? (note, this is NOT asking, "is this item useful?". Because everything is useful to someone, somewhere. Sometimes we assign a value to something because we recognise that it can be useful... somehow, to someone, somewhere.) The question is, do I plan on using it? If not, out it goes.
  2. Is that planned use going to be within six months (or one year, if it's a seasonal item, like a Christmas tree)?  If not, out it goes.  Some things I've actually calendared in my phone, and have placed a dated label on that item. Once the deadline passes, either I get off my lazy butt and use the item, or I find it a new home.
  3. Exception to the rule: Does this item have Great Personal Value?  (ie, the newspapers from the days my children were born, or my great-grandmother's china figurine.) If so, I may keep it, as long as I have a proper storage place for it, like an archive box, or a special shelf for my keepables.  If I find you have too many items of GPV, you may wish to revisit what qualifies as GPV.

For those of you with a streak of Hoarder in your soul, it can hurt to throw something potentially useful out. If an item truly has a use, somewhere, someone will want it. Sell it on eBay, list in in Gumtree, give it away on Freecycle.

Also, if I have difficulty giving something up, even *gasp* throwing it away, before it leaves my hands, I give it a kiss, thank it for its service, and then free it to the world.

So, once I realised that my physical junk was gravitationally holding on to my intellectual junk, I had a bit of a clean-out. I've got four bags of stuff to either sell/give away, and I've got several items up for auction on eBay.

I have some writing time coming up on Saturday. Now that my office is clean, I'm going to see if it makes a difference to my scene.

Her Grace loves the idea of minimalism, but finds it difficult to adhere to its principles. 

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