Sunday, June 17, 2012


This is my post for Day 11 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 habits of great writers Day 11 declutter

The challenge

So let’s declutter today, shall we? In every sense of the word. I want you to do two things:

  1. Clean up your space. Spend some time (at least five minutes, but no more than 30) doing the following: clear off the desk, sharpen your pencils, put your files in order, take out the trash, wash the dishes, whatever. Do what you need to do to feel better about the place where you do your work.
  2. Cut your writing down to its purest essence. Turn a 500-word article into 250 words. If you’re brave, convert 1000 words into 300. Take away everything but exactly what you want to say. Eliminate weak, lazy words like “that” and “things” and anything you don’t absolutely need. Then say what you have to say and be done with it.

I would love to clean up my writing space, but I don't have a writing space. I use my laptop, in my lap, while sitting on the couch. That's where I write. Most of my house, I will admit, is very cluttered. But my couch isn't. I keep most of my notes on the computer, and I have already "cleaned" those notes up into folders. I am debating using a program like Scrivener to keep my notes for each writing project in a more easily searchable place. If anyone reading this uses Scrivener (or another program), I would love to hear what you think of it and in what ways it has helped you organize, if it has helped.

Cutting my writing down to its purest essence was something I used to really struggle with in the past. But then I started entering flash fiction contests. Believe me, when you have to write a story, with a beginning, middle and end, within 300 words, you learn very quickly how to clean up any unnecessary clutter from your writing! Finding a way to write a complete story in 300 words or 500 words while still making it something gripping and magical to the reader is not easy but well worth the time, as it is an invaluable means for practice in writing clean.

1 comment:

Dee said...

Wow - a gripping story within 300 words! Now *that's* a challenge.

I use Evernote to keep track of my notes and ideas, one notebook per book series or niche. It works quite well, as there's a version for just about every type of computer, tablet, and mobile. And it's free.