Wednesday, September 5, 2012

IWSG: Get Rid of the Clutter

If you read my previous post, you know that my AOL email was hacked. The only word that comes to mind is devastating, but only because I've had my AOL email address for ten or twelve years. jessy31writer was who I was. It was my identity. When I went to writers' conferences, attendees may not know my name but all I had to say was, "I'm jessy31writer" and they'd say, "Oh, yeah."

Devastating! Sort of reminds me of when I learned we were moving to Oklahoma. I could hardly stand the thought of being so far away from our kids, I couldn't stand the thought of lifting and moving furniture, traveling in two vehicles across a couple of states, searching for a place to live, waiting for the cable guy. If you've moved much, you know the drill. Using a new email address felt the same way.

Oklahoma--in spite of the wind, the drought, tornadoes, new TV stations, gangs, drive-by shootings, unfamiliar grocery stores and brands of food--has been great for my writing. I only know one person here, two if you count my husband, so all I have to do is cook, wash clothes and write.

I'm trying to treat the AOL hacking the same way. I'm trying to make it work for me. My new virtual mailbox is pretty bare. (Now that I think about it, our physical mailbox is bare too, but that's another story.) Those 60 yahoo groups I belong to have been trimmed. So have the e-newsletters. For a few days, I fell into that what's the point state of mind and unsubbed. I wasn't reading them anyway... just collecting them.

Now that I've crawled out of that what's the point state of mind, I can see that clutter, whether it's on your computer, in your email or physically around you, destroys creativity. Clutter weighs you down. Clutter becomes a habit. We (or I) accept it, live with it, without realizing how destructive it can be.

Without the clutter of my Home Sweet Home in Louisiana (we left all furniture behind), I'm writing more. Maybe without the clutter of my AOL email, I'll submit more.

Take a look at your writing life. If you aren't writing and submitting, you might need new surroundings. I'm not suggesting you move away, but try leaving home for a few hours each day to write in a new place: the library, a cafe, bookstore or coffee shop. If you think you'll do too much people watching, then don't comb your hair or wear make-up. Believe me, you won't look at anyone for fear they'll look back at you.

I used to think I couldn't write anywhere but in my own home. That's a lie we tell ourselves to hang on to our creature comforts. Take it from me, you can write anywhere.


Are you writing? If not, why not? Frustration? Clutter? Have you fallen into that what's the point frame of mind? That's normal but don't hang out there too long. There's a reason you're there; find it. Get rid of it. And write.


Charles Gramlich said...

clutter bugs me too. I always take a day at some point during my breaks to declutter my computer desktop, get rid of all the files that are useless and put everything in a folder. It helps me.

Karen Walker said...

Jess, I'm so with you on this one. I can't write if there's any kind of clutter around (messy house, lots of unanswered email, a long to-do list. I think you are in the perfect place to just keep writing.

Anonymous said...

I was there - just yesterday - in the midst of the clutter and the "what's the point." It took some scratching and plowing but I got out from under and feel so much better for it. Thanks for sharing - it makes me feel like yesterday was meant to be.

Tonja said...

My mom's AOL account got hacked recently. She sent me a link to porn. Eeek. My husband does IT security and patched her up.

I just cleaned my desk so I could start a new writing project.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've had the same email for 13 years and can't imagine starting with a new one.

Cleaning out the clutter is so therapeutic.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry about your email. I'm plugging away on edits, so no clutter at the moment.

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

I think we all have drank from the "what's the point well" recently. I have been away from blogging and thanks to the new writer's group starting up I got my "MOJO" back.
Even Arlee has been having doubts. We must keep each other motivated and be willing to bend and change with the writing. See my last two blog post for hopefully new
insights. Hang in there.
You have the hardest "word verification" known to man. If you are not getting any comments people have probably given up on leaving them.

Hart Johnson said...

I am terrible about clutter. Though I've worked out a system on the email. I have a yahoo email I sign up for EVERYTHING with. I only open it about once a month where I totally clear it out except the tiny bit I need. My writing gmail I use only for writing and personal and have been pretty successful keeping the spam out. then my work email... I think I do the same with the writing. I keep my current projects stacked individually. I tend to have one 'anything goes' notebook for stuff that comes up non-project related (new ideas, revision ideas) and then when I finish a current project I pull the pages and divy them to their proper project pile. It's like... instead of having one organized house, I have a village and just go to the house I need at a given time...

Lynn said...

Sorry about all your computer troubles, but I can relate to the clutter on the computer. I usually take one day (like today) to read blogs, etc., so that I can focus the rest of the days on writing... did manage to get a little in today too!

Lexa Cain said...

I've moved so many times in my life that I've gotten used to losing whole chunks of my past (especially when I moved countries). I sometimes get nostalgic over the things, photo-albums, books, antiques, doll collections, clothes, etc. that are gone. And yet, I've cluttered up all my new places just fine. I should probably move again just to get rid of some of it!
Great post! :-)