Writing Tips

I Hate Clutter as a Writer and as a Human Being

The one thing I hate both as a writer and as a human being is clutter. I hate the sound of the word. That sound it makes when my tongue hits the roof of my mouth and pushes to the back of my teeth; clutter. It drives me nuts. And that is not the worst. It paralyzes me.

That is why I take the pain to clear my desk at the office at every given opportunity. I do this before I start work, and before I leave. It’s constant. I also do this in-between stuff. As soon as I begin to get that feeling of mess and confusion, something needs to go somewhere. Something needs to go back into its space. My mind and body cannot rest until my desk is free of junk.

When I come home it’s the same. Even though I take the pain to make sure my room is as tidy as it can be, I always find something to pick up.

The first thing I do when I wake up is to lay my bed. Note, not when I wake up in the morning, but when I wake up. So it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. It’s been like this for years.  I do not go out of my room without straightening the sheets, and making sure the pillows, blankets, and other things are clean or neatly folded. I am always rearranging books; tearing them down and then rearranging them because I have to. They have to be orderly.

My shoes are not spared either. I want them sitting perfectly on the rack; left-right-left-right. In that order.

My wardrobe. The one place I don’t mess with. All of my girlfriends know this. I will do anything. I will give anything so they don’t do girl stuff in my wardrobe; like pick and drop. A couple even blackmailed me with that.

You’d be surprised I even hate it when the notes in my purse are jumbled. I want all of my money arranged in a particular order.

My friends think I am obsessed. I’m not. I just really hate clutter.

When I was in senior year (level 400) at the university, I had this friend. Matter of fact, I was sleeping over at her place one-time because we needed to work on our thesis. We agreed to take turns sleeping so that one of us would wake the other.

That night before she slept, I watched her arrange all of her stuff around her, on the bed, leaving just some small space for her body. She told me she could never sleep unless there was stuff on her bed. Stuff like clothes, books, whatever. I was shocked.

I was shocked because it was the exact opposite for me.

I cannot, under any circumstance, sleep with stuff on my bed. It takes my breath away. And it’s not the good kind of taking breath away. I will choke to death. My body will be restless. My mind too. And I will start to itch all over. That happens to me when I am very uncomfortable. That’s why I hate to be out in the rain, especially when it’s mud-spattered. I tend to itch.

Clutter is not my friend. Perhaps it’s even my worst enemy. It doesn’t only affect my life negatively, but my writing too.

Sometimes I tear sheets out of my journal or workbook just so I can start afresh. I’m not afraid of starting afresh because I produce better when I do. When I get ideas for a poem and I start writing something down and I try and try and it just doesn’t make any sense, I let it go. I cancel it. Tear it up. Throw the sheet away. I put it in my past and tape it there. Then forget about it. I don’t like the past haunting me. I don’t like the what ifs. I want it gone. I want a clear mind to move forward.

It doesn’t necessarily mean I forget the idea I had for the poem, no. The idea is still there. The foundation is still there. It is the construction and the structure that changes. And for the better. It’s almost 100% guaranteed for me. I produce better.

It’s maybe why I keep a lot of journals. Because I need new pages every now and then. I’m a diarist. I recently found my diaries of 10 and 15 years ago with all sorts of things in them.

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Maybe I’ll talk about that some other day.

But clutter, of any form, does not make me productive. It kills my creativity. I cannot write when my desk is a hot mess. I can’t concentrate. I feel like there’re lots of creepy little things standing on me.

It has the same effect on my life, as a person. Some years back, I deleted almost all of my contacts because I wanted to start afresh. That didn’t necessarily stop people from calling me, but it did stop me from calling people who were, more or less, not adding any kind of value to my life. It gave me a lot of space to breathe and allowed me to invest more of my time into profitable things and people.

I intend to do this often.

Another thing I do to declutter my life is that, once in a while, I turn my room around. I change the position of stuff. Like I shove the bed to the other end. I’ve been doing this for years. It leaves a feeling of newness, fresh start, and I like it. Sometimes my situations change for the better when I do this. It’s almost like my whole life turns around too, for the better.

I can’t imagine going through life without decluttering. I have learned, so far, in my life that things have to go. People have to go. To make room for others. To make room for all the better stuff.

It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means I care a lot about where my life is headed. People and things that make me a better person and a better writer get to come with me. Otherwise, they are left behind. They become part of a past. Part of all the things I appreciated, but had to let go to become a better person.

Opportunity cost.

 

 

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Writing Tips

3 Reasons why being a perfectionist, or your own critic is not such a bad idea

Every day I wake up, I ask myself, Can I really do this? Can I take one more day of this life I am so used to, and yet I never seem to get a hang of?

How is today going to be like? Will it be rewarding or will I go round in circles trying to link dots that never seem to connect? Will I experience something refreshing that will cause me to continue this path, or will I give in to gloom? Will I live? Will I live knowing that I have to, or will I live simply because I want to? Because I want to, live for me?

There are days when I am tired. Stressed. Exhausted from doing the damn same thing. Every. Single. Day. Days when I pull the plug on myself. No books. No poetry. No friends. No calls. Nothing, but a critical self.

I have come to realize that we, writers, have a 1000 lives. Every day, a little bit of us enters a vault. Without coffee; without cigarette, or a cat that truly understands.

Continue reading

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Writing Tips

List: 5 things that are likely to put readers off your work

Some days back, I followed a link on social media to read what I thought was going to be an interesting article. I must admit, I closed the tab right after reading. Well, I didn’t exactly read the article, but parts of it. Actually, I don’t remember reading any part of it, although I did see the title. Urgh, never mind!

On a daily basis readers are bombarded with news, all sorts of links to websites and blogs, and have to struggle through the awful lot for that one link they think might be worth taking a look at only to haul their disappointed selves out of the disappointing website (and with a good chance of not returning).

A number of things are likely to put readers off an article. I recently asked a small number of people (both writers and non-writers) about what things put them off when reading a post. Not so surprising, but a few of the answers ran through.

1. Boring Articles: A ten (10) paged interesting article is likely to be read more times than a 1-2 page boring article. Readers want to read something exciting; something that will make them want to read to the last drop of ink. If the article lacks this grind, there’s a high chance that the middle and last lines will go unnoticed.

2. Hiking: Thoughts that are not clearly expressed are also likely to put readers off. Nobody wants to read a writer beat around the bush without a head and a tail, or either. It becomes a total waste of time, and a definite write-off.

3. Deception: Readers hate to be deceived. (Don’t we all?) The insatiable thirst for information does not warrant a string of attention seeking lies. Do this and you will lose your credibility as a writer for a long long time (forever is long enough right?)

4. Language defects: Common typos are not to be excused here. There’s nothing spikier than a one-paged article with a ton of language defects. It doesn’t only make readers lose interest, but the write-up loses its value too.

5. Non-Beneficial: Who wants to read something that they will not benefit from anyway? Nobody. It is clever to be smart in titling—of course, then people may follow the link to read, but when they realize the article does not in any way benefit them, don’t expect a faithful finish.

Knowing the audience for whom you write, will help you determine the language you should communicate to them in. Take a little more time to double-check your work before putting it out there. Readers don’t just want to read, they want to read good stuff.

Do have a lovely week. I’d be sharing some poetry with you soon.

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5 interesting reasons why you should write every day

It is not impossible to write every day. No. I recently read an article about how important it was to dedicate 30 minutes of time each day to writing. It may seem hard at first, but when you do it often, you don’t only get your work done—whether you are working on a book, a poem or anything, but you also get to improve on yourself.

To help you get closer to achieving this, here are five (5) interesting reasons why you should write every day based on my experience.

  1. You enjoy anonymity: Though not readily admitted, writers tend to write a lot about themselves, their environment, their lives, their…everything! Yes, it is the only time you can actually talk about yourself, and get to know what other people think of you or your situation without having to give too much away.
  1. You get to be someone else: Haven’t we all at some point in time thought about how it would feel like to be out of our own skins. Well, writing allows you to take on any character you wish to be. There are really no restrictions—how ‘bout that?
  1. You get some alone time: Show us a better place to be alone with our thoughts and I’d take this point out. Writing is the only time you get an escape from everyone and everything. It is your only true space…at least for a while, till you can figure out how else to deal with the clutter.
  1. You get to live your fantasies: Is there something you would like to do, someone you would want to meet, some place you would love to go? You should write about it. It is the fastest route to all your fantasies.
  1. You get to explore yourself: Writing is the only way you can explore yourself out of yourself. Imagine—being able to stand out of your persona as you delve into and uncover certain depths within you that you never thought existed. Fascinating isn’t it?

That’s why writing is recommended every day.

PS: Do you have some more interesting reasons why writing should be everyday? Please share, I’d love to know 🙂

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