Spring cleaning was a thing before Marie Kondo was all the rage.
And I have some conflicting thoughts about clearing out clutter.
Is more organization truly necessary? Are your current systems and methods actually outdated?
Let’s look at the light and dark sides of “tidying up,” especially as they pertain to the creative processes in a writer’s life.
When we can simplify something, it usually feels good, because we’ve found something within our grasp to improve — and we don’t have control over many other complex parts of life.
For example, morning routines that prepare you for your day ahead and evening routines that let you wind down at night are tactics that can help you stay balanced during all of the unknown that occurs in between.
And you can also have work guidelines in place that set you up to be focused and productive.
The light side of tidying up is that you can optimize your chances of accomplishing both your small and large goals.
When we think we aren’t already “doing enough,” it usually feels bad.
It’s overwhelming, because the paths to make your desired changes aren’t always clear.
- You might want better clients, but you don’t know how to get them.
- You might want to charge higher fees, but you don’t know how to justify those prices.
- You might want to shorten your work hours, but you don’t know how to set boundaries with clients.
Instead of taking action, you just get frustrated.
The dark side of tidying up is the implication that something is wrong with your current conditions.
Artists work with both sides
Honoring where you are promotes productivity more than wishing you were already in a more advanced stage of your career.
There is always room to get better, so the trick is to not get down on ourselves when we haven’t “fixed” a perceived problem yet.
In terms of my own personal cleaning anxiety, I prefer when things are organized, so tidiness is always ideal. But until I have the time and/or energy to clean up, I’ve learned to accept when things are messy.
It’s fine either way, so instead of getting overwhelmed or frustrated, I work with where I am to meet my goal.
I chose the quote in the image for this post because of the story behind the song lyrics.
Pete Seeger created “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and the Byrds recorded one of the most well-known versions of the tune.
But Seeger only wrote two lines of the lyrics: the closing line, “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late,” and the title phrase, “Turn! Turn! Turn!”
The rest were “adapted word-for-word from the first eight verses of the third chapter of the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes.”
Both parties made interesting choices to not create completely new work and find the existing words that satisfied the emotions they wanted to express with music.
- Seeger could have second-guessed his choice to adapt from a Bible verse.
- The Byrds could have second-guessed their choice to record a song they didn’t compose.
They could have chosen to not move forward, frustrated with their lack of originality and seeming need to “improve” their own skills before they shared their creations with the world.
But artists learn to see when an idea is “good enough” — balancing the light and dark sides of the creative process.
It’s a critical skill that helps you complete projects.
Reader Comments (6)
Allison W. says
Stefanie – I feel like this post was written just for me! As a content writer for a small company, sometimes I struggle with my two creative dark side buddies: “something better” and “more than.” After they visit, I’m left with pages of doodles and ideas that go in so many directions, I end up feeling depleted, discouraged and unable to move forward. Thanks for the idea of applying the”tidying up” concept to the creative process.
Stefanie Flaxman says
Thanks for sharing, Allison!
Your creative dark side buddies sound like a lot of fun — a bit like rowdy party guests who make a mess and leave before it’s time to clean up. 😉
Even if there’s nothing you can do about the party guests, there’s a lot of hope for grooming your creativity into a productivity machine.
You might also like this post from Kelton Reid:
Milos Leng says
Hello Stefanie, I really enjoyed this article! I come from the literary backround (fiction and poetry). Thus, the concept of tidying up is like my old frenemy. I just started to become more interested in online marketing as selling books does not make much money unless you are very big (Is that a wrong motivation? I do not think so.) What is your advice for a beginner in this field? Is it possible to ‘write well’ if you do not know the niche? Is it neccessary to read up a lot about it in order to produce a high-quality content? What do you think? Thanks!
Stefanie Flaxman says
Your literary background should come in handy when learning about creating content.
For the marketing part, I’d recommend starting with Copyblogger’s free training here:
Being both a writer and an editor I can relate to the dark and light side of tidying up. I always enjoy a better final product and sometimes it is easy but sometimes it isn’t pleasant getting there!
Stefanie Flaxman says
Easy writing and editing days are certainly nice, but challenges keep our minds active. 🙂
This article's comments are closed.