For a while they were everywhere on TV; those programs showing you how to de-clutter your life. They were full of helpful hints on letting go and moving on and organizational solutions for the stuff deemed worthy enough to stick around. Clutter - friend or foe?
After being brought up to believe that I was the world's messiest beast, I discovered a while ago that I'm actually quite neat. I like clean surfaces. I like everything to have a place. However, stuff accumulates at a frightening pace. When we first moved into this house many, many years ago we actually had to buy furniture in order to fill some of the rooms. Trust me, this is not the case now. I can go through the house and think "Where did this all come from? How did we end up with this much stuff?" Cleaning out feels good. Things that were vital 10 years ago simply aren't anymore - the children are older, the hobby has been left behind, and what is that thing sitting in the corner?
Writing can have clutter as well, although people are divided on defining it! It could be too many flowery phrases or descriptions of settings that go on for pages or a hair by hair description of a hairstyle or colour. I am certainly guilty of cluttery writing, but I do try to go through it and clean it up. It's hard. Just like getting rid of that ugly chair you've had for forever (but have fond memories of ), you remember how long it took you to write that particular paragraph or chapter. Then there's that phrase that you're so proud of, but in the cold light of editing realize that it doesn't do anything. It doesn't add to the plot or characters. It's just a nice phrase. I toss it.
My litmus test in editing is honestly answering the question:
"Does this sentence/paragraph/section add to the story? Would the story be the worse if it were gone?"
The answer decides its fate. I'm not advocating writing a book that's as sterile as an operating room, but cluttery writing gets in the way of your story. Filling in the details is wonderful and absolutely necessary. Overfilling leads to clutter.
What's your opinion? Is this a worry for you? Or are you able to write cleanly?