Friday, March 1, 2013


Spring Cleaning

No kidding. It may not look like spring outside -- in fact, I think those ground hogs should be fired or at least retired with pension. But it's a good time to start spring cleaning. I don't mean the house -- not at the top of my list, believe me! But rather, your writing "house".

If you're like me, there is a lot of extra paper that seems to breed when you're in the middle of a writing task. Maybe it's just the sloppy filing techniques that slip in and take control. Even if, like in my office, those piles of paper and file folders, and even books, are in neat stacks on the floor (because there's no more room on the desk), they are an eye sore and a reminder that there's work to be done.

And what about those piles on the desk or desks, as the case may be? What is so important that it needs to be front and center until it's dealt with? Okay, maybe that in-basket of bills; that questionnaire you promised, in a fit of being helpful, to complete for someone; the list of email for the stores to be contacted re signings; and of course, the 'To Do' list that keeps getting longer or has yet another page added. I agree, they need to be front and center but isn't it better to deal with them sooner than later?

And how about those TBR piles on the floor. Granted, there's no more space on the bookshelves in any room in the house. But maybe if they were re-located to the floor of another room, the office would look less congested and more inviting. Because face it, there's little appeal in sitting at a desk trying to be creative when the setting is organized chaos. Unless you're someone who works best in the throes of organized clutter.

And when it comes to the actual writing, are you de-cluttered? Are your ideas in order or are there too many of them floating around in your head? Are you focussed on one writing assignment -- that novel, that short story, that blog? Or are you trying to juggle too many ideas along with the desire to proceed with several writing tasks at the same time? Many writers can do just that, have multiple series on the go or different types of projects. But if you're not one of those, its time to recognize that fact and priortize. At the very least, set up a system: the mornings for the novel and afternoons for the short story. Focus on one project at a time.

Also, don't be afraid to let go of ideas that clutter your brain but, realistically, won't ever be put to paper or computer screen. Write them down and file them away, if you don't want to totally abandon them...just stop thinking about them right now.

So maybe this blog is old hat to you. You regularly spring clean and even fall clean for good measure. Your desk is a welcoming surface; your office, an inviting haven; your mind, a focussed creative machine. That's so not me!

I need to get at that spring cleaning...and maybe, just maybe spring won't be far behind.

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

Berkley Prime Crime, now available
A KILLER READ, also available at your favourite bookstores and online.
Nomianted for an Agatha Award, Best First Novel 2012
COVER STORY available for pre-order; coming Aug. 2013.

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