Getting Rid of Clutter in Writing and in Life

Getting rid of clutter….that’s what I’ve been doing for the past month. And it feels so good!  Selling stacks of books to the half-price bookstore, dropping off clothes at the consignment shop, recycling piles of sports trophies my boys accumulated over the you-get-a-trophy-for-breathing years. There was a lot of dust over all that stuff.  Hand holding trash bag

And all that filtering got me to thinking about my writing. And about my life. Where is the clutter?  What can I can rid of without regret?  Some things are easy to let go of—whatever is broken, what no longer fits, what isn’t sustainable. A cracked vase or an awkward sentence?  Gone. That was easy. Ten tweets a day or writing a novel every year? Not going to happen. Even if others can meet those goals, I know I can’t and I need to hush the judgmental voices in my head that sometimes presume that I can and should. Clutter.  All clutter. And it’s gotta go.

A difficult relationship or a writing project that has me spinning in circles?  Not so easy. I have to consider these a little longer. Are they salvageable? Are they worth investing more of my time and energy? As I’ve gotten older, this process of consideration has simplified. I ask myself this question: Is it contributing to the greater good (or goals) of my writing?  Of my life?  Without much angst, I generally know the answer. Even if my head is unsure, my heart is certain. The answer is clear. If I’m always on the frustrated side of the equation while giving it my best effort, then it’s time to let it go. There is inevitable grief for the release of something I wanted but couldn’t bring to fruition for a variety of reasons—poor timing, insurmountable obstacles, the clashing of lofty goals with harsh reality. Sometimes you just have to say, “So long.” Accept the lesson learned.  Sing over what was, rejoice in what is, and sail onward. Lighter. Less burdened.

When all the dust settles and the clutter is whisked away, what remains are the essentials. The absolutes. The true loves. And it feels so good.