The Practice of Creativity

Spring Cleaning for Your Writing Life, Part 2

Posted on: May 29, 2012

A few weeks ago I began a series on spring cleaning for your writing life. There are three steps in the process:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your writing life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful writing life!

I also asked writer friends for their thoughts, posing this question to them: What is one thing that you’re doing, giving away, rearranging, reassessing, reorganizing, etc., this spring, to support your writing life? I’ve organized their comments into several categories: Body, Space, Schedules and Patterns of Mind.

We only have a few more weeks before the official start of summer. Let’s continue to use the forward propulsion of spring energy to clear away anything that keeps us from our optimal writing life.


I am clearing out deadlines. Rearranging everything so poetry comes first. Dusting off hip-opening yoga mornings and rededicating my body to sleep.

Alexis Gumbs, writer and activist,

I did a spring cleaning of what was ailing me:  the (supposedly) most feel-good aspect of my life. I had a great physical therapist, but physical therapy was killing me. I spent my whole life either going to PT or recovering from pain or fatigue. I got some support from Sharan and some friends, and realized that PT isn’t healing anymore. So I quit. I feel scads better after only two days. The very same day I did it, I found an acupuncturist who knows all about my rare disease (how about that!?) and will do Medical Qi Gong on me. That’s cleaning house.

Heidi R. Moore, writer and artist,


My mom’s fantasy: I am a domestic goddess who hosts grand dinner parties. My reality: I can barely cook a pizza without burning the house down. Result: A cabinet stuffed with beautiful, but unwanted table linens (gifts from my mom). Solution: I donated the entire unused collection to the Habitat for Humanity Home Store and can now open my cabinet without the constant reminder that I am NOT Martha Stewart!

Linda Johnson, writer and author of A Tangled Web,

I am purging and streamlining my physical environment to eliminate chaos and create a zen garden peace to allow my writing to flow. Today I shredded 2 bags of documents related to estate business for my parents and father-in-law.

Cathy Pelham, emerging writer and photographer


I’m prioritizing… and I found out that focus on my writing gets a higher rating than a focus on my cleaning… but not by much. Just 1 point more on a 15-point scale. So, it’s important to do both. But I write FIRST, and THEN I clean. This is the first day I’ve used my new system, and I’m liking it.

Ellen Jacobs, writer and author of “The Littlest Sparkler” (a children’s book,-in-progress)

I am cleaning out my sleeping in so there’s more of that sacred silent space to write.  DJ, emerging writer

Patterns of Mind

This spring, I’m throwing out my inner critic, the voice that tells me what I’m writing is crap! This won’t be easy. We’ve been attached at the hip (or the head) for a long time.  But in order for me to move forward as a writer, it must be done. Wish me luck.

Judith Marshall, author of Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever, optioned for the big screen,

I was on the road, winding up the book tour for Blood Clay, when my husband did the spring cleaning. He shook out rugs, dusted, vacuumed – and painted the bedroom. When I returned, he opened the door with a flourish to show washed-out yellow walls and tired woodwork replaced with a vibrant cayenne red and creamy white. It was a daring choice, and the right one.  So I’ve been trying to do the same thing in my writing. Be bold! I remind myself. Go into the dark places, yes, but I don’t need to focus only on the hidden and buried and painful. I am seeking places where joy and light suffuse the mind. I am letting go a little more, being open to that character making an unexpected move – it’s a gift from the writing gods. I’m shaking the cobwebs and accumulated dust from my thoughts and opening doors that have been closed for too long. Welcome spring!

Valerie Nieman, writer and author of Blood Clay,

What needs to be reorganized to support your writing life?


(Photo credit:

7 Responses to "Spring Cleaning for Your Writing Life, Part 2"

This was really insightful


Thanks for stopping by. There will be one more post in this series.


HI Michele
For me it is clearing out the temptation of social networking. While we do need it to market our books, I can certainly spend too much time talking (And commenting on blogs!) instead of writing. I need to find a harmonious balance


Hi Annie,
Thanks for stopping by. I definitely hear you! I think this is a common struggle of most writers today. There are times I have to take myself with journal in hand to the local library, just so I can write without a sense of needing to connect or look up something.


I definitely need to reorganize – I have been putting off filing FOREVER, just because I loathe the task of creating file folder labels. Maybe this weekend… seems like there is always something more fun to do, but it would improve my writing and sense of progress if I just did it.


Hey Beverly,
A trick is to break it down into small tasks and with LOTS of treats. I really like SARK’s micromovement wheel idea –breaking a project down into 5 seconds-5 minute intervals (you usually do more than the time allotted, but for the times that’s difficult to get started, it helps). On the micromovement wheel, you put something in the center (a smaller piece of the project) of the wheel (i.e. support writing life by reorganizing my desk), using delightful words (words the delight and inspire you). And, then you draw roughly 8 ‘pie’ slices and put the smaller tasks in. Using this technique I have actually labelled a task related to filing –‘have a file folder adventure’–doesn’t that sound better than just filing? Her website has more resources on the micromovement method


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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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