Spring Cleaning: A Writer’s Ritual
This month’s topic is all about Spring Cleaning Your Writing. For those of you who don’t think you need to spring clean your writing life, consider how good actual spring cleaning makes you feel. This year I had a very profound experience in getting rid of junk. About two weeks ago, within days of each other, I unloaded two carloads of books I’ve been hauling around with me over the years since college, made a trip to the electronic recycling center and even rid myself of a working computer, and cut off six-plus inches of hair. It wasn’t intentional doing all this stuff at the same time, but the results were dramatic. I felt as if I’d lost fifteen pounds. I felt lighter, newer, and freer. Sound dramatic? I assure you it’s not. Spring cleaning is cleansing, which is why every writer needs to incorporate it as a spring ritual.
Spring cleaning, as we’re approaching it in our workshop, will be a metaphor, a goal, and an intention. It can be actual spring cleaning, and should be, especially if you’re writing in a cluttered office space—or worse, a nook in the corner of one of your bedrooms or living room. It can also be spring cleaning of your creative space, a washing out of old ideas that are weighing you down, or which are simply not serving you. We all hold onto things, but we oftentimes don’t understand why. I was growing out my hair, but for what purpose? It was nice in the beginning, when it was still healthy, but after a certain point I was growing out my hair because I was attached to the idea of having long hair. Once I chopped it off, I had to ask myself why I waited as long as I did. The same is true in writing, only finding out the things you’re holding onto can require a little more inquiry.
Even if you can’t attend the workshop, I urge you to do one spring cleany thing thing this month as it pertains to your writing. Clean your desk or office space. Get rid of books you haven’t opened in more than three years (and which don’t hold significant sentimental value, of course). Or journal on some or all of the following questions:
1. What do I love about being a writer?
2. Which of these things are about what brings my soul alive?
3. What kinds of risks do I take in my writing?
4. What would it mean to truly risk myself in my writing?
5. What one thing am I unwilling to let go of when it comes to my writing?
6. If I had to let go of this one thing, what would happen?
7. How does that actually make you feel?
These questions could be part of your daily pages or personal journaling. I encourage it as a way of digging deeper into the question of what maybe needs to be cleaned and cleared out versus the places where you know you have a tendency to be cluttered and stuck. Take a chance here and see what reveals itself. Maybe it will be so effective that you’ll feel compelled to ritualize the experience for yourself.