by Francine Puckly
It’s spring! Time to dust off the mantel, shine up the windows, replace the rotting floorboards on the deck, and apply a fresh coat of paint to our nicked-up walls. But spring spruce-up doesn’t stop with our homes. Refreshing our writing spaces and projects before the heat of the summer hits is equally important. This is not a waste of valuable work time. Rather, this is rejuvenation of mind, body, and spirit so that we can go forth with extra verve as we tackle our projects. So grab the 24 Carrot Spring Checklist and get your ideas and writing space tidied up!
Clear Away Winter Debris
Just as we strip off heavy, flannel bedding and replace it with light cotton inside our homes and remove dead leaves and stems from our gardens outside, we also need to strip away paper clutter in our offices in order to lighten up for the summer. Spring is the perfect time to clear the unwanted and unnecessary (also known as “managing your papers”). New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield once said, “Tidied all my papers. Tore up and ruthlessly destroyed much. This is always a great satisfaction.” She was right. It feels great!
Be ruthless with your papers.
* Did you forget to file your conference handouts or have multiple copies of critique comments on your most recent manuscript or portfolio review lying around? Clear those papers. (Taming Conference Handouts). Keep only what cannot be referenced online. Remember: owner’s manuals, newspaper and magazine articles, and oftentimes workshop presentations are all available at the click of your mouse. There’s no need to keep the extra paper cluttering up your space.
* Have you been super aggressive with your annual goals and are juggling multiple projects? Make sure each project has its own hanging file with manila folders labeled Research, Marketing, Synopsis and Query Details, Drafts, and any other categories that are helpful for you. Place a cover sheet inside each file that gives a brief summary of the project at the top and then a blank section where you can list what is needed for the project: Do you need to buy or request research books or mentor texts from the library? Do you need to interview someone? If so, list those items here. When you open up the file in the future, your next steps are front and center.
* Keep all of your project files in one file drawer so you can reference them and also quickly refile them so that you won’t add to the clutter in your space.
* Once you’ve gone through all of your papers, compost that “yard waste” by shredding and recycling all of your papers!
Prune Dead or Damaged Branches
Are you hanging on to ideas that are dead? Don’t be afraid to prune out ideas and projects that you no longer have passion for. It’s okay to let go of the 47 versions of the very first picture book you ever attempted. Keep the draft that’s most nostalgic and let the rest go. Did you try a first draft of a psychological thriller and then decide your voice was in quirky middle grade humor? Delete the project and recycle the drafts.
Sharpen Your Tools
Writing with a pen that’s desperately low on ink? Choosing to print in gray scale because you can’t find or haven’t bought a replacement ink cartridge for the printer? Time to restock your supplies! Take a 20-minute trip to your favorite office supply store and refresh your supply of pens, pencils, paper clips, sticky notes, ink cartridges, file folders and paper and pads for your office area.
Wipe Down the Walls
Yup. This is the Lemon Pledge portion of our checklist. Now that you’ve tidied your workspace, it really is time to pull out the cleaning supplies. Be sure to vacuum, dust the corners, check the light bulbs in your desk lamp, and shine the windows. Buy a bouquet of fresh flowers or clip some lilacs from the garden. Arrange them in a pretty vase on your desk.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Our creativity won’t grow if we don’t take time to fill our wells with joy and new ideas. Start a summer reading list of genre books or summer beach novels. Crack out the sangria and enjoy a light and happy movie that makes you laugh or possibly dance.
Spring really is the time to lighten up. Take a few hours out to spruce up your space and care for your papers and projects. You’ll go forward with renewed energy as the Summer Solstice approaches!
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