Spring Cleaning: Three Tips for Writers

daffodillsMarch 20 was the Spring Equinox, which means spring is officially here! It doesn’t matter that it was actually snowing on March 20 in some parts of the US. It’s spring; I’m claiming it. I think most of us have had enough of Jack Frost, Suzy Snowflake, Old Man Winter, and Polar Vortices to last a lifetime… or at least until November when we’ll be glad the oppressive heat of summer is over.

Spring in my family means more than just winter’s end. We’ll be entering about a seven week glut of birthdays, not to mention sprinkling in Easter and Mother’s Day. We have a lot of celebrating to do over the next month and a half.

But before the parties commence, the cleaning begins. My family spends weeks stripping rooms apart and scrubbing them top to bottom. Nothing is skipped over. Painted surfaces get washed or repainted. Wood gets waxed. Carpets get shampooed. Shelf paper gets replaced. Crystal and silver get polished. Winter linens get laundered and switched out for summer ones.

As a child, I hated it.

As an adult, I avoided it for a long time. I moved so often that I was able to just wait the cleaning out, knowing that in another year, I’d be packing my house and starting over in a new one, essentially “spring cleaning” anyway.

This time, however, I’ve been in Arkansas for a while. The spring cleaning can’t be avoided. I’m grateful my kids didn’t lose too many snow days; they’ll be here to help. They just don’t know it yet.

Sure, the work is hard and time consuming, but the results are always worth it. The house always smells so good—like Murphy’s Oil Soap and lemons. And sometimes fresh paint. And it reminds me of my childhood. There’s no better feeling than resting tired muscles in a clean, clutter-free house and thinking about home.

Spring is a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, clean slates. I hope as this spring commences, it promises something new and wonderful for you.

For Writers:

It’s been a long winter. Many of us have been almost in hibernation, stuck in our homes or offices. And because we’ve been inside for so long, our patterns have become ruts, maybe even blocks. Our workspaces? Well, if yours is like mine, it’s getting out of control.

It’s time for a fresh start. Time for some spring cleaning.

Sometimes the easiest way to break out of a writer’s rut or writer’s block is to simply clean our space. It’s hard to be productive when we’re surrounded with clutter. It’s much easier to do our best work when our writing space is conducive to creativity and productivity.

  1. Desk space — Make sure your writing/typing surface is as clean as possible. Not all of us have dedicated office space. That’s okay if you don’t. It doesn’t matter if you have a glorious mahogany desk, write at the kitchen table, sit on your bed, or type at a coffee shop. Just be certain you have space around you. You want to be able to write in a notebook if you need to. Put down your cup without risk of it falling. Reach for a pen with no fear of knocking something over. Your surface space should be clutter-free.
  2. Wall space — When you write, you don’t always stare at your screen (or notebook). Sometimes you look around when you think. If your eyes can’t rest on something relaxing or helpful, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Do you have a bulletin board or whiteboard for your WIP? Organize it and clean it up. Do you have a picture hanging on your wall? Can you see it, or are stacks of books and papers in your way? Tidy the mess. Do you look out the window? Clean it, and clean your window coverings, too. It’s best to have no distractions.
  3. File space — Is your computer working correctly? If it’s running slowly or your performance is poor, it could be because you have a virus, or perhaps you just haven’t done any maintenance. When was the last time you ran defrag? Are you spending fifteen minutes looking for a file because you don’t remember where you saved it? Spend some time cleaning up your system and organizing everything into the appropriate folders so your work is more methodical, and therefore faster.

It really doesn’t take much to get your workplace organized for spring. And just sprucing things up in a utilitarian manner might be all it takes to get those creative juices flowing again.

Mary NaccaratoThey call my grandma The White Tornado because (1) she has the most beautiful white hair and (2) she can blow through work like crazy, whipping any project into shape. She’s about to turn 96, and she still spring cleans her house. I wish she wasn’t 1,000 miles away; I’d ask her to help me with both my house and my workspace. I know she’d get both neat as a pin in a heartbeat.

What about you? Are you spring cleaning this year? Your house, your workspace, or both? Do you have any cleaning tips or tricks to share? Post them here.

16 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning: Three Tips for Writers

    • Ah… Your post is awesome. And thorough, too. I never thought about checking for broken links. So glad you left a link here. I hope my followers check your post out. Thanks for sharing my tips!


  1. Staci your Grand mother is gorgeous, I am one who needs to have a good feeling in the house to be creative. If the house feels cluttered and dusty its time to de-clutter I do it every three months and am amazed by the stuff a family accumulates in that short time. Wishing you a happy healthy spring as we get ready for the colder months here.


    • Thanks. I simply adore my grandmother. I don’t know what I’d do without her. It kills me that we live so far apart now.

      I agree. A cluttered home is so difficult to work in. And it happens so fast with family. As soon as you clean off a surface, someone looks at it as a place to put their things. It’s a neverending battle.

      I wish you a happy and healthy autumn. (Yes, growing up my family did fall cleaning too. I told you, it’s neverending.)


  2. I’m a firm believer in spring cleaning (I could use your grandma!), but I’m not going to start it around here until I can open all the windows and let in some fresh air and let pillows and throws out into the sun. I cleaned my desk of files this past week. Now to the dust! Happy spring.


  3. I didn’t think of it as spring cleaning. I had a break between books, edits, promotion and did a big job cleaning files out in the computer, some dated 2004. Transferred from one computer to the next without taking the time to weed. Now it’s easy to find things and old records are on disks filed away in another spot. Some year I’ll ditch all them and start over, except for the pictures, that is.


    • I suppose it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s just a necessary evil. And I’m sure you feel better off for having done it. I don’t have computer files dating back that far, but I have paper ones that are even older. It’s time I get busy!


  4. You peeked at my writing space didn’t you? You saw that my files needed to be cleaned out and reorganized…I just know it! TA DA!! Everything has been sorted, refiled and put in it’s proper place. Even added a new file for school. Do you think all of this cleaning might excuse me from cleaning out the closet?


  5. First of all, would you like to come to Texas and help me spring clean my house?

    I liked your tips for writers. It’s important to have a clean space for writing and file organization is essential. As for my computer, I think my laptop is slowly dying, but I keep putting off buying a new one. After all, I’ve only had this one five years! I do have all my files backed up on dropbox and and external hard drive in case the inevitable happens.


    • I think my laptop is dying, too. I call it (not affectionately) POC, for Piece of Crap. I also back up everything. I’ve been burned before; I won’t let that happen again. But I do have everything–including emails–in meticulously ordered folders, so I can find what I need. I wish my physical workspace was as orderly, but my kids have access to that, and it’s harder to keep tidy when other people are involved.

      As for helping you spring clean your house? I’m all for helping other writers, Joan, but I’ve got my hands full here. Maybe we can trade? You come here first, and then I go there? 🙂


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