tidying up

Yesterday I spent time in my art room. I wish I could share good stuff I created with you. But, my time was spent putting away, throwing away, and creating room to work. The art room (which lately has been incapacitated due to piles of stuff) is in the back of the house with a door that makes it easy to close and forget the mess behind the door. So when things get busy and time for cleaning limited, stuff tends to pile in the art room, stifling the creative process and reducing the space to merely a laundry room.

My art room (which also doubles as the laundry room) all
tidied and ready to create.
I reclaimed the space yesterday. It was the one thing I planned for spring break. I’m too embarrassed to share a before photo with you…but this is how it looks right now, because I just took the photo. (The washer and dryer are on the opposite wall and a long table with three work spaces is on the right wall. As I was taking the photo, all three kids followed me to see what I was doing. Sam said, “I think it’s a good day for art.”
“Most definitely,” Steph said.
“That’s just what I was thinking,” added Hannah.
Me too. This morning I finished the final chapter for Celebrating Writers. That might sound like the project is finished, but it’s not. Christi and I have to finish collecting all the good stuff for teachers to use to make writing celebrations a little easier in their classrooms. Things like response sheets and invitations and letters to parents informing them of celebrations. Still, I met the goal for today — to finish the chapters. 
Which means I have time to create — in the next 24 hours I’m going to see how many stories from my ordinary life I can document via scrapbooks pages or miniBOOKS. Do you want to wager a guess? Stephanie thinks 20. Hannah thinks 17. Sam guesses 100. Andy wagers 10. I’m not sure. Lots. 
What does all this have to do with writing?
As I was organizing yesterday, I realized how sometimes we just have to take time to clean out the piles and stacks and junk that collects around the edges of our lives. Our writing lives are no different. I collect lots of ideas. My head is constantly brimming with snippets of words, twirling images, and possibilities for projects. A lot of junk can collect. And a lot of it is good. But if it just piles and is never sorted, I can feel overwhelmed as a writer. 
In fact, before this week I was feeling overwhelmed. All the slicing left little time for me to think. I spend a lot of time just thinking. Reflecting. Sorting. Organizing. It’s nothing people can see, but it is an integral part of my writing life. Earlier this week I reread four notebooks and several files for the YA project I put on hold when Hannah & Steph’s adoption story mutinied my writing life. Just like the physical space of the art room, the space in my brain that holds thoughts and ideas and whims for writing projects needed tidied. 
I have a renewed energy for not only this specific project, but writing in general. How about you? Does your writing life need tidied a little?

Let's Be Email Pals!

Teaching writers doesn't have to drown us.

Enter your information to receive my free eBook, plus weekly tips and encouragement for teaching writers.

Don't worry, I won't send you spam, and you can unsubscribe any time. (I'd hate to see you go, though.) Powered by ConvertKit


  1. “sometimes we just have to take time to clean out the piles and stacks and junk that collects around the edges of our lives”
    Such a true statement Ruth – I was noticing last night (as I tried to clean out my email) that I keep collecting bits and pieces for writing ideas but never take the time to sort or tidy so they are of little use to me. That is my one thing for spring break which is just beginning today!

  2. Yes, my writing life could use some tidying! I love that you have an art room, especially that you have the table with three work spaces, perfect for family! This year I have been thinking about links between writing and scrapbooking more and more. I got a desk last year and it has made it so much easier to be able to scrapbook more regularly. However, stuff does accumulate throughout the week and I have to go tidy it! Unfortunately, there isn't a door to block out the clutter that sometimes (often) piles during the week.

  3. I have a space, it's been calling my name, your photo made me long for it a little more! My kids, husband and I would have a fun time creating in it, but it is overwhelmingly stocked with “ideas!” (We will call them that for the sake of sanity). Love your art room and I love that Sam said, “I think it's a good day for art.” Fun.

  4. So great to accomplish one thing & then can move forward. I have many spaces in my house, all needing some de-clutter, but I am sticking to one at a time, which helps. Fun to see that you have a family space to do projects. We did too & loved that things could be left out for the 'next' time. Rather like conversations around the dining table, we had fun times around the art table.

  5. My whole life needs to be sorted. I have so many piles. Time to clean out again. I just found some letters that my Grandmother had written in the 30's in my filing cabinet.
    I need some renewed energy!!