5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Writing Life

Image credited to Hyperbole and a Half

There’s still plenty of snow and ice outside, and the groundhogs were divided on whether spring really is right around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to a little spring cleaning while you wait for the thaw (unless you live in a place where you’re already wearing shorts and tending to your garden … and if that’s the case, I’m not sure we can be friends).


But rather than tackling your closets or the kitchen junk drawers this spring, why not tidy up your writing (life)? Here are 5 ways to do it:

  1. Tidy your space: This goes not only for the physical space you write in, but also for what lives inside your computer. I have no fewer than 12 files labeled “New Book Idea” – turns out a few of them are the same (guess I really should get going on that particular idea, eh?), so I’ve merged and categorized everything, and can now find what I need in a snap.
  2. Pick up a new habit: Some say getting rid of bad habits is the way to go, but I say screw that – it’s much more productive to add a helpful habit than to focus on getting rid of a less than stellar one (unless you play Candy Crush…then I encourage you to abolish that nasty habit). For example, a couple of years ago I decided to wake up at 5am to write and though it was tough at first (SO.MUCH.COFFEE), it has turned out to be one of the best, most effective habits I’ve created.
  3. Read a craft book and apply 3 tips from it to your writing: No, I do not mean a book about crafting (unless that’s relaxing for you, then by all means!) — I mean a book about the HOW-TO of writing. My three favorites in this category: ON WRITING (Stephen King), WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK (Donald Maass), and SAVE THE CAT! (Blake Snyder). These three books have dramatically changed how I write – for the better!
  4. Try something different: Maybe you’re feeling stuck with your writing, or are getting tired of banging your head on your desk every time you open the document (been there, done that, like yesterday, actually…), so why not write something different? Maybe a short story, a novella, a non-fiction piece, some flash fiction? I have a middle grade book I’ve plotted out and love, and while it’s WAY off genre from what I usually write, when I’m struggling I open that document and play around, and often the creativity starts flowing again.
  5. Get critical about your quirks: Along with a few other consistent quirks, my characters tend to do a lot of head nodding between dialogue segments, they are often “breathless” with grief (hey, I write sad books so tears are common), and for whatever reason my male characters have a penchant for white T-shirts (why, oh why, are there so many white T-shirts?). It’s good to know what your writing tics are, and do a thorough scrub of your work to make sure you remove them.

Any tips for tidying your own writing? Who wants to join me for some word scrubbing?

Author: Karma Brown

Karma Brown is the author of COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/Harlequin, September 2015), an emotional story of one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned. Karma is also a National Magazine award-winning journalist, and lives outside Toronto, Canada, with her family and their mischievous labradoodle puppy, Fred.