Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Cleaning Your Writing

It is hard to believe that May is already here. With all of the rain we've had over the last 6 weeks, the lawn has already gotten away from us and we already are behind on our annual battle with Mother Nature.

Spring around our house always signifies some sort of spring cleaning, where we get rid of the stuff in our lives that isn’t working. 

A few of years ago, I had a lawn mower that was 6 years-old and falling apart. If you could get it started (and each spring, that was a big IF)  it rattled and wheezed… mainly due to several stupid things that I did to it… like when I replaced the blade for the mower and installed the new one on upside-down, causing it to rattle and vibrate considerably, cutting the grass with the dull edge of the blade, and then being too clueless to realize what I had done… at least until all of the bolts on the mower started vibrating right out of their sockets, causing major parts of the mower, such as the gas tank, to simply fall off. 

My friend Matt, after taking a look at the situation and laughing at me for what I had done, thought that the solution would be to buy another used mower, which in his capable hands, worked great... but a week later when I tried to get it started (after about an hour of yanking on the pull cord, wheezing and swearing).  I failed miserably.  I gave up, loaded the two beat-up and barely-functional mowers onto the trailer headed toward the Stoutsville Auction (an annual event which raises money for the local firefighters), and went on down to the locally-owned Toro lawnmower dealer and bought a brand new mower with a 5 year warranty.

And I haven’t had a problem with it since. The saved time and aggravation alone while using this mower has paid for itself 10 times over. Sometimes spending extra money does solve a difficult problem better than buying the cheapest or easiest solution.

So what’s not working in your writing life? What are those little writing obstacles that prevent you from sitting down at the keyboard day after day?

Does your old computer take 30 minutes to boot up?  Are you missing deadlines because of watching the season finales of your favorite TV shows? Are you spending too much time writing email and not enough time writing your novel? Are you still editing that manuscript instead of sending it on to the agent or publisher as you had intended months ago?

Well, May is the perfect month to change all of that.  Inventory the things that inhibit your writing. Are you not writing because your desk chair is uncomfortable? Get a new one. Are you spending too much time playing that addictive little Solitaire game installed on your computer instead of writing?  Delete it. Do you have a mouse that doesn’t quite work right, or a keyboard that makes your wrists numb after 30 minutes of typing? Trash it! Get rid of distracting clutter in your writing space. Throw out magazines that you always had planned on reading, but never have. If you can’t make the time to read them now, you never will. Pitch those pens that don’t work.  File or toss those “important” papers that are piled everywhere. I am as guilty of this as anyone.  If you saw my office right now, you’d know this to be true.

But, sometimes you just need a little fresh air and some encouragement to get rid of the bad habits that have inhibited your writing during the long winter months and start spring with a clean slate. So make that list, get out your broom, and start cleaning!

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