Want to write? Clean your desk!

I’m a wannabe. That’s right, for various reasons my career bent sideways again and again. I’m part of the ‘slash’ generation. Soldier / cleaner / taxi driver / District Officer (child protection officer) / bookkeeping / administration. I’m a jack of all trades and master of none. A dilettante. After a decade of following various environmental themes quite closely, there’s one thing burning in the back of my mind. A collapse story, but one with a difference, one I haven’t seen in any movie yet (except maybe hinted at in Doctor Who).

I want to become a writer. So while working in admin in a large Aussie telco, and then coming home to do yet more admin for my wife’s design firm; and while following environmental stories and issues, I have also been studying grammar and writing.

But in all this chaos, how do I stay motivated? I read a number of writing blogs. One I follow because she taught me a short writing course earlier this year. Claire Scobie gives all sorts of advice, and this one is particularly effective if you’re feeling totally despondent.

Clean your desk!

As she says:

Spring clean your desk. Honestly, clearing your physical space helps remove psychic clutter. Take 2 hours to sift through your stack of papers, chuck out obsolete drafts & make space for the new. Wipe down your desk, pick some flowers, make it a pleasant place to sit.

In my case, I probably also need that other great art lost to the modern world, sleep, but for now I can testify to the mind-cleansing power of a clean desk. Do it. Buy a few manilla folders or 2 ring binders, and attack that corner of guilt-and-shame that you’ve been looking at for the last year. Sort it out. Categorise it. Put things to do in your in tray: or just plain do them. Tidy it, clean it, wipe it down.

And if that fails to get your creative juices flowing again, read a book. It’s hard to imagine now, with all the horrible news about ISIS coming out of Iraq, but there’s an old Iraqi saying I like. “To live is to read.” Do it.

Then when you’re refreshed and tidy and ready to go, I would add one last thing. If “to live is to read” then imagine how good it will feel to sit and read your finished first draft after a good 6 week break! Imagine getting in your comfy chair, having a favourite treat, and just binge reading your own work for the sheer pleasure of it. You can mull over editing strategies the next day: first draft’s always suck. But the sheer fact of having finished it must be an amazing experience! I remember finishing some impressively long sociology essays, and that was some fairly dry material. I can’t wait for the day I let loose with characters running amok in a post-collapse Sydney!

One day.

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