Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ruthlessness with Discards

For many, this time of year reverberates to the clash of the garbage lid while the sweet aroma of cleaning liquid dances in your nose. 'Tis the year end, time to clean house.

Time to wonder 'when on earth did I buy this?' or look once again at the gosh-awful present Great Aunt Gertrude gave you years ago and wonder if this is the year you'll be able to get over the guilt and just get rid of it.

It's also the time for rediscoveries (sometimes just after the nick of time). There's the white sock that's been missing since Easter. There's your other earring. Perhaps, even, there's the cat. It is the time of year to take stock and bravely move forward into a new year (like you have a choice; unless you want to do your best Miss Havisham impression).

Time to take stock of your writing projects as well. Take an inventory. Decide (honestly) which are worth keeping around and which should go to that big editing room in the sky. Maybe you could send it to that farm in the country where it could play with all the other unfinished projects. There's no point in holding on to things just for the sake of holding on to them. There's only so much room in that desk drawer, or under your bed, or behind the furnace.

Be aware of your facial expressions. If seeing the project makes you smile, then keep it. If you emit a frustrated sigh at the sight of it, let it go. Why would you keep something that makes you feel bad? And no, guilt, isn't the right answer. Not by a long shot.

Be ruthless with your discards. Your living space will be cleaner and so will be your writing.

I'm taking tomorrow and Friday off so I can follow my own advice and be ruthless with discards. Best wishes to all for a safe and happy New Year's.


  1. Great advice, Elspeth! I don't have any paper copies of anything. I have them all on computer files, but still need to clean those up every once in a while. Which reminds me - I need to do a backup too! Thanks :)

  2. Excellent advice indeed. I have to decide whether to fish or cut line on a couple of WiP's come January. At the moment, I am very much feeling as though I am that farm in the country :D

  3. Definitely cleanup time. I can't even find some of my writing projects because I'm so far behind in my filing. I think I'll follow your good example and spend some time on that project tomorrow. Gather the trash bags and warm up the shredder!

  4. Happy Housecleaning, Elspeth. I've been doing some of my own.

  5. Elspeth - You're absolutely right. When it comes to clothes, possessions or writing files, one does have to cull. I just did, as a matter of fact, a major culling job on part of my WIP. Cut me to the quick, but it's better now for the ruthlessness. I wish you a wonderful New Year, too!

  6. Excellent advice, Elspeth.
    Wishing you a very happy 2010.

  7. I LOVE letting a smile decide when to keep something. I have a lot of things to test it on. Thanks and
    HAPPY 2010!

  8. What excellent advice! I am going to go get ruthless right now!

    Happy New Year!

  9. Sorry I missed this post, but glad I checked to see if you were "back" yet - thought for some reason you were taking a break that included the 30th. Anyhoo, great advice as usual, and here's to health, happiness and prosperity to you and yours in 2010!

    Marvin D Wilson

  10. excellent idea Elspeth! I've been pondering my writing projects - feeling a little like I've let some fallow that might need ploughing and some that I've overworked and need to sit quietly. I think the thing about things (and I include ideas and projects as things) is that they require a certain amount of space in our minds as well as our closets or hard drives. We keep tending them a little when it would be better to be ruthless to some and more engaged with others. So to that I go!

  11. I enjoyed reading your list. Do you have any English in you? My mother was from England, and we always have tea. A couple of tea solves everything :)


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