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Declutter Your Writing

By on Oct 4, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Recently I came across a book on decluttering called Clutter’s Last Stand by Don Aslett. Although it was published the year I graduated from high school, the advice is as relevant now as it was then. More so for me, since I’ve managed to accumulate so much clutter since then.
Reading books on decluttering is sort of a hobby of mine. It’s a great alternative to actually doing it. This one is different.It actually motivated me to let go of that bowl I’ve kept in a box for two decades and those travel books that I got before I had kids. Aslett explains how clutter weighs you down and sucks up your time and energy. Maybe you will need it someday, but will you be able to find it? And will you have spent more on dusting it, moving it, organizing it and thinking about it than just getting a new one when you need it? Yes, it was a gift, but if it makes you unhappy would the giver really want you to hang on to it?
What happens to our closets also happens to our paragraphs. We load them up with fancy words and extra phrases. It happens intentionally as we toss in favorite clauses and unintentionally when we’re thinking as we write.
As a collector, I’m all for gathering a whole lot of something. It’s great to have an abundance. But to really enjoy the collection, you need to pare it down to its essentials. It works this way in writing too.
Do you need this word? Do you need this phrase? Does it really make the sentence better? When you sort through your things, it’s not that you want to get rid of all your things. You should keep those that are useful or that truly make you happy. It’s the same in writing. Sometimes you want “extra” words to make the sentence sound a certain way. This, however, should be done deliberately. Yes, this takes time. No, it’s as much fun as when you first poured your heart out on the page, at least at initially. Once you start paring down and realize how much more smoothly your piece reads, however, you may find it even more fun.

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