Spring Cleaning…With Your Writing

by Kristina Ludwig
May 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Spring is in full swing, and we all know what that means…spring cleaning! Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that great feeling of accomplishment you have after de-cluttering and polishing up your home. So why not apply the same concept to your writing?

Any thorough round of spring cleaning starts with the basics: dusting off those cobwebs. In your writing, “cobwebs” can be anything from wispy sentences leading nowhere to musty passages that seemed epic at first, but upon further examination actually do nothing whatsoever to advance the plot. When I’m looking to clear away some “cobwebs” in my writing, I employ another crucial element of spring cleaning: enlisting some help. Just as spring cleaning is easier when two people are doing it, a second (or third or fourth) opinion can really facilitate clearing out any literary “cobwebs.”

After that, it’s time to clean out the closet, a task that fills most people with dread. Applied to writing, “cleaning out the closet” means evaluating chapters for lengthy and unnecessary parts, and cutting when necessary. Cutting in your writing can be as painful as getting rid of that five year-old sweater that you never wear but “might want someday,” but it’s a necessary evil. I like to think of my castoff paragraphs as my literary “Goodwill bag.” If I believe that I’ve written something really great that just doesn’t fit in a particular story, I copy/paste it into my “Goodwill bag,” and store it away for later. A passage that didn’t quite fit into one work might be absolutely perfect for another…and the images or thoughts I painted in the passage won’t be lost forever.

We’re in the home stretch; the last step of spring cleaning is to polish everything until it shines. In writing, this means honing up the language, tightening up the paragraphs, and making every sentence sparkle. I believe that this is the favorite part of most writers; the hardest part is over, and editing and polishing allows us to optimize the hard work we’ve already done.

So there you have it…the three crucial steps of spring cleaning, applied to your writing. If you feel stuck at any particular step, just apply another principle of successful spring cleaning: leave it alone for awhile. All that cleaning can become overwhelming, so sometimes a well-deserved rest is the only way to go. Clear your mind and revisit it to achieve the best results!