Spring Cleaning for Writers


There was a time when I would have never done, couldn’t even imagine, what I did today. If you save every piece of paper, including cocktail napkins, that you’ve ever written upon or printed out, I suggest you try to let some of it go. Not work in progress or things you think you might be able to make a book out of down the line. But the old stuff. The stuff you don’t need anymore hogging precious space and making it difficult to let in the new.

I’ve been a little blocked writing-wise, and I think it’s because my genes feel spring coming and know it’s time to clean out the old to make room for the new. My writing room is normally quite neat. I do not work well in chaos. But I can shove things in the closet, shut the door, and forget about them. I painted the room recently so lots of things that had been on the walls were crammed in there amid boxes of old collages, manuscripts and notebooks. Also when my mother moved a few months ago, she off-loaded family “treasures” to me that I didn’t know what to do with. Into the office closet they went.

Today, I decided to clean out that closet. After tucking away a few true treasures, I loaded lots of things into the car for donation. Next I had to deal with the paper. I filled our recycle box and then 2 large garbage bags with collages, old drafts of manuscripts that are now published books, and notebooks. Lots of notebooks. Out they go!

Notebooks are the most difficult thing for me to throw away. I’ve only done it once before and afterward, I felt liberated. This time it feels great, too. Since my last purge, I had accumulated twenty notebooks full of morning pages, novel ideas, sprints of dialogue and scenes. All the useful bits have been entered into documents on the computer. I will never read those notebooks again. They had to go.

Some writers donate their original manuscripts and working notebooks to curated collections in libraries. As much as I admire our literary greats, I’m not one of them and I know it. But I am a writer in need of space, ready for a fresh notebook and a new flow of words. Hurry spring!


  1. I thought I had a built-in hedge against clutter: only one used filing cabinet. But now stuff is spilling into the closet. Clutter has clutches, and how I long to be free!


    1. It is so true. Like waging a war over here. One thing that saved me is we have no basement so I had to let things go to bring in new. One thing killing me, my husband puts everything into the garage attic. I think there are Cabbage Patch Dolls up there…


  2. I have done a bit like you. I have re – written some hand – written documents. I have re – written the text in computer. Then I have destroyed the hand – written stuff.


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