Do you ever sit down to write, only to find you can’t concentrate when there’s clutter around you? Do you then spend your writing time either cleaning that clutter or avoiding the problem entirely by retreating to social media or “research”?
Cleaning is the bane of my existence, so I’ve never been very good at keeping up with mess. In one of our first apartments, my husband and I basically lived out of our dryer, nearly every flat surface was considered fair game to put junk that didn’t have a spot, and there was a room that was filled with unorganized papers I would toss in when I passed by (don’t worry, I cringe thinking about it, too). And that was BEFORE I had kids. Now, even though I’ve gotten some of my bad cleaning habits under control, even when I get something put away it doesn’t stay put away for long.
But what does my hatred of cleaning have to do with writing? I’ve always known that the pressure to clean never eases up, and that taking care of the worst messes either comes before writing or gets worse. These two priorities clash in my life every single day. I’m constantly trying to come up with a way to keep a clean house and write, but it always feels impossible. Then I bought a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
Many of you have probably heard of Marie Kondo’s book. It’s become especially popular again in the last few weeks since “Tidying Up” came to Netflix. Some of you may have heard the KonMari method raved about so much that you feel annoyed hearing about it yet again, and in a writing blog of all places! If you’re like me, you’ve heard the very basic gist of the method, but didn’t want to look into it any further because it sounds stressful. To be honest, it feels stressful to me right now.
When I picked up this book, I was hopeful but doubtful at the same time, if that’s possible. I’d watched a few episodes of “Tidying Up,” where families suddenly transform into tidy people and never go back. It didn’t seem real. It didn’t seem manageable. But I ordered the book anyway to get the details I was missing from the show just to see if the KonMari method might work for me after all. I’m only about halfway through the book yet, but already so much of it resonates with me.
One thing Kondo says is that the clutter and mess in our homes is basically a subconscious way for us to distract ourselves from what’s going on inside us that actually needs fixing. I’ve often thought that my messy house was a symbol of my life, but after seeing it put this way, I can already detect hints of what’s hiding behind the overwhelming chaos, and I’m guessing it’s at least a substantial part of what keeps me from sitting down to write, and focusing during the time I do take.
The reviews for the KonMari method claim that it not only changed customers’ homes, but also bettered their lives, making them more capable of things they always wanted to do or didn’t know they needed. I want to experiment on this. Perhaps discipline in writing isn’t the only tool I’ve been missing to better my craft. So, for the next few months (Kondo recommends six at most) I’m going to declutter my house! I feel terrified just saying it, but there it is! I’ll post updates on Twitter and Faceboook as I go, and at the end I’ll assess how my writing habits have changed. I’m really hoping they’ll be better.
The thought of doing this with three kids and the clutter my husband and I have already built up feels impossible--and maybe, for me, it is. I hope not, but I guess we’ll find out. If you want to start the KonMari method with me, reach out on social media, or in the comments, and let me know! I’d love to have others on this journey with me.
Here's to having a tidy house!
Rachel White has lived in Utah all her life, and has been writing fiction nearly as long. “Starsworn” is be her debut published work, but as long as her husband, three children, and over-anxious dog cooperate, there will certainly be more to come. Be sure to watch for audiobook narration projects with her name on them!
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.