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“Spring Cleaning”-Up Your Writing Space and Manuscripts

Now that we’ve all survived the dreadful winter, spring is upon us! Time to open up the windows, brush away the dust bunnies, and, most importantly, get to writing! There is nothing like a breath of fresh air to get a person motivated for picking up that manuscript you took a break from and deciding if it’s worth getting back into again. So, as you’re clearing away the cobwebs, here are some helpful tidbits to get you back on track with your writing:

Tidy up your workspace! Just like the other rooms in your house, I’m sure the winter has taken its toll on your writing space, and it’s time to do something about that. First off, go through all the books you’ve accumulated in, around, and on your writing haven and get ready to do some organizing. Divide the books up into three piles: those that are going back onto your bookshelves, those that you actually need for research/inspiration or are currently reading, and those that you no longer need. For those books that have ended up in the third pile, it’s time to give them a new home to save space not only in your work area, but so you have a place to put new books you’ll soon be adding to your personal library. Not sure where to donate your books? Do some research on the internet for places that accept donations in your area, such as the Boys and Girls Club of America, who are usually more than happy to take these off your hands for those less fortunate. Cleaning up your workspace and helping others? It’s a win/win situation! Also, if you are feeling in a writing rut, changing up your writing space can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing (and clean out the cobwebs in the corners). Moving your desk, reading chair, or changing rooms for writing are all great ideas.

After you’ve tidied up the book clutter, it’s time to start tackling the paper clutter. Many of us have started on story ideas that we thought were great, and then for one reason or another those ideas got pushed aside for different projects. Just like with your books, it is now time to decide what is worth keeping and what needs to be slushed. Not sure how to tell which is which? Well, here are some things to consider: For a partial manuscript, read over what you have and where you left off. Then, set up an outline of how you want the story to continue. Do you have an ending in mind? Do your characters have depth, and do they have a story arc? Perhaps more layers can be added, or maybe there are already too many?

Another thing to consider is if you are even still interested in the story itself. It’s all right as a writer if you started a project, then had to step away from it, and when you come back you aren’t as into that story as you once were. Maybe there are parts that are still salvageable and you can use them in your next manuscript, or maybe there’s a character you want to save for a different story. And even if you decide you still want to continue working on this manuscript, use the time you read over it to start doing some early editing of scenes, dialogues, or character traits that you want to change or get rid of. Chipping away at the editing part now can save you time later on.

Swooners, share with us some of your favorite “spring cleaning” methods for your writing space and work!

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Erin Carroll

Born and raised on the Jersey Shore, I always had a fascination with NYC and books, and now I get …

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