One Writer’s Common Clutter Problems & Their Solutions

My life – as a writer – has been overtaken by clutter, research and mail. When you live in one space for a long time, it’s easy for misc items that spark your interest to build up. Then when it comes time to clean the paper mountains on your desk, or that random end table or even the bookshelf, it can feel overwhelming.

Instead of cleaning up that clutter, I used to cheat. Once I’d reached a point of critical mass, I’d push everything into a box – throw out a teeny bit – and then shove the box in a walk in closet.

Unfortunately, I recently moved to an older home with no walk in closets. Moving was a wake up call regarding just how much paper resources I had accumulated. Here’s my list. Any of it sound familiar?

Writing magazines: I promised myself I’d get around to reading.

Books on writing, etc: Friends, family and English professors who know how much I’m committed to writing have passed along their old textbooks, yard sale finds, etc.

School Notebooks: In one box, I found my old high school honors English notebooks.

Mail: My fiance and I are paranoid about identity theft, having both had our credit card numbers stolen. As a result, we moved 3 full boxes of mail that we kept telling ourselves we’ll burn at some point. Unfortunately, we no longer have a fireplace, either.

Clips: I have a love hate relationship with these. It’s impossible for me to get near these boxes/portfolio binders without spiraling into nostalgic college & first job memories that take hours to reemerge from.

Knick-Knacks: Some people have knick-knacks for decoration; I keep knick-knacks because I see a story surrounding them. However, they’re doing me no good hiding in ugly cardboard boxes.

Those are my clutter problems in a nutshell. Clearly identified. Now that I know what they are, here are my solutions.

Writing magazines: Clip out the articles that I like and then compile them into a binder with sleeves and recycle the rest. If I really like the entire issue, then put it into a shabby chic magazine rack next to my reading chair. However, I am not allow to overfill the rack and must consolidate regularly.

Books: If I haven’t read it in the past 3 years (I hate getting rid of books), then give it to the Goodwill or make a flower. If it has a pretty cover, then turn it into a notebook.

School Notebooks: Admit to myself, that it’s time to move on. If I need to refer back to anything in those notebooks, I can just do a google search. Recycled as needed, see above link.

Mail: Buy a shredder & a trash can. Set up a mail station.

Clips: Organize these by publication. Frame the ones I won’t use, but I really like. Organize the rest into clip books. Begin scanning them and saving them electronically.

Knick-Kacks: Inherit my mom’s old dish hutch and display the best ones as decorations throughout the house. Storing the rest in the bottom of the dish hutch.

Now I just need to implement. Let’s see how far I can get today.

4 thoughts on “One Writer’s Common Clutter Problems & Their Solutions

  1. I must follow your advice myself. Ask me how I’m doing at our meeting on July 30.

  2. We’ll check up on each other! It’s always easy to get excited about cleaning up, then reality happens and it’s easy to procrastinate.

  3. Hey, how did I miss this? Fabulous ideas, Sarah! Would love to know how far you’ve gotten…if at all. I finally started-to-continue a big decluttering of my papers, books, and junk. I HATE getting rid of books, too…but I finally broke down and have a huge stack to take to the libary or Goodwill. It feels so good to get rid of things…so why do we always hang onto them for so long?!

  4. You’re describing my life. How many plastic file cabinets can a person squeeze into a small room. Boxes filled with papers that I want or think I should keep (in Box for months.) And this is after I organized! LOL

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