Clearing the Decks

Clearing the Decks
Image provided by
Offical [sic] U.S. Navy @
My mother-in-law declutters her house quite often. Old editions of magazines get tossed; any small items left out from mending or sewing get put away; plastic gets put into garbage bags to be taken to the recycling place in town. She has a marvelous saying for when she does this, “clearing the decks. I’m sure I heard this before I ever married her youngest son, but for the life of me, I can’t remember when or who it was that I heard it from. Nevertheless, I love the phrase and am glad she brought it to my attention.

I’m clearing my decks of obligations this weekend. I’m not talking about the ones I have concerning my family. Rather, I’m talking about the ones I’ve put on myself that are distracting me from what I want to accomplish in the near future–the near future being a span of three years and the accomplishment being a finished writing project.

I keep on telling people I feel comfortable with the concept of starting a writing project I truly want to see through to the end. Since the first time making this statement, I’ve missed 3 days of working on this endeavor. Although this isn’t a bad start, I don’t want to miss any more days of working with it. Therefore, I must make room within the course of my daily activities. Thus, cleaning the decks is necessary.

This has become a complicated achievement. I had to reevaluate my time online. What do I take out and what do I leave in?

Social media sites have become bland for the most part. With this said though, I have found a new one I’m contemplating joining because it may be an excellent place for moral support while I’m working in this project. I do need to get myself unsubscribed from a few others just the same. They are not serving any worthwhile purpose for me, and the emails from them have become nonsense.

I’m letting go of some of my blog subscriptions. This one is yanking on some heartstrings though. I’ve made so many acquaintances through reading blogs of those I’d love to upgrade to friends, but if I’m going to be serious about writing this story, I have to find the time for it somehow. I’m hoping once I have the first draft completed, I can start adding in some of these subscriptions again. Yes, I know that I could just change the subscriptions so that I only see them if I’m at the Reader, but I know me too well. I’d find myself giving excuses to go online to read them.

Did I hear someone suggest that I take a leave of absence from my blog? I thought about it, but decided that because I just love to write, and need a little interaction with others, I’ll keep writing posts. However, I am considering slowing down this type of writing to one or two times each week.

I must put more structure into my days to make this challenge plausible, so another thing I’m doing is having designated house cleaning days. Until now, I’ve been doing the cleaning as I see it needing to be done. This means a little cleaning here and there every day. I doubt that this is a good strategy when I know I should probably get in three to four days of just writing all day in hopes that I get my ideas flowing for longer periods of time.

I hope this planning isn’t just a way of procrastinating. Just getting to it is a concept I have subscribed to most of my life; yet, I know finding excuses to drag my feet can happen so easily.


To those of you who have writing projects: What do you think? Are these ideas of mine realistic? Do you do any of these things when you want more time for your projects? Is there anything else I should do to help myself?



22 Replies to “Clearing the Decks”

  1. Unsubscribe, declutter, power wash, do whatever it takes to give birth to your project, that’s what we’re all waiting for. Pregnancy requires love, protection, and I guess this analogy works for writing too. The world doesn’t need more FB thumbs ups but clear, inspiring messages.


  2. Good for you for identifying what occupies your time instead of what you really want to do with it. Sometimes we have to make hard choices to reach our goals.


    1. I feel so inspired to write this story. It’s something I’ve never felt before. I felt an urgency to get rid of the clutter in my days and in my mind. Still, there are some blogs I’m hooked on, that are good for the breaks I know I need to take. Yours is one of these.


  3. Boy, is this a practice you only get better at with … practice.
    So much of it is simply priorities and turning a blind eye to the millions of other things that at the moment seem equally as important. You’ve got to practice selfishness. It gets easier when you’ve really ingrained a ritual and hold it sacred.
    I promise. It does.
    Keep it up!


    1. I fully intend to keep on practicing the ritual. I’ve even gone as far as to warn my husband that there will be times when I’ll be pushing him out of our ‘computer room’.


    1. All I’m doing is organizing my time, putting away what I can live with out for a while and tossing what isn’t necessary in my life. I feel bad about the blogs I’ve had to unsubscribe from (yours isn’t one of them) but this story is something I truly want to do and time has to be available for me to work on it.


      1. I’m like you. I need to clear the clutter in my life to concentrate properly. I haven’t watched TV for the past few years but am now doing so on weekends just to veg and clear my head because I’m overwhelmed every day.


  4. Good luck, success, and tons of inspiration on your endeavor. I’m sure you’ll succeed, especially since you have a plan.
    My best time for writing is in the morning. Sometimes when I don’t feel inspired, I trick myself (getting easier to do all the time) by saying that I only have to write for fifteen minutes. Of course, as soon as I get started I keep at it. But giving myself that initial short deadline takes any pressure off.


    1. I’ll keep the 15 minute idea in mind. So far I’m ready to work on the project anytime. I just have to wait until Hubby is at work, watching TV, or sleeping so that I have the computer room to myself and have it quiet. But I know that there will be a time when my motivation is going to be down. That’s the time when I’ll be using your idea. 😉


  5. I would be well-served to follow your lead. I try to save my blog commenting for specific points in the day, like once or twice at 30-60 minutes a pop. Even then, it can be really time-consuming. I need to focus on my book, but smaller writing and editing projects distract me to no end. The good days are the ones where I work on the novel first thing. It’s been a hard habit to adopt, but I am getting better at it. It’s good to hear you’ve found a project you want to stick with.


  6. I definitely relate to the struggle of blogs as indirect distraction. But cutting back is a good move I think. Structure is the key to happiness, or something.


    1. Another commenter said pretty much the same thing, adding the suggestion of cutting back more, that once a week with a post would be okay. I’ve got myself down to 2 times a week. I’ll have to push myself for once per week.


  7. Yes, remove all the clutter, both physical and emotional as this paves the way to creating something wonderful with pen and paper. Those whom I hold close in my writing endeavors tell me that once a week or once every two weeks is sufficient for posting, as this gives one time to develop something of larger worth. Not to say every day posts are bad, but they tend to clutter an already clutter filled internet. So, my dear, do what you must, focus on your project and know if you get stuck and need an ear I am here to listen. 🙂


    1. You may have something there about the posting. I’m having a hard time letting go of my writing time for my blog, but I truly want to work on my writing project when I feel the urge as well as when I have the scheduled time. In order to do this, something has to give.


  8. Please excuse me for having a lot of thoughts, or at least, a lot of words to describe my thoughts. Jonathan Franzen claims to plug the modem cable into his laptop with superglue. Then, he cuts the cable as close to the connection as possible.

    If extremes work, then they are a justifiable expression of our nature and our true temperament. In the Healing Garden, we strive for the middle. Each day is a new day. Anything is possible.

    Cognitive executive function and the friendly collaboration of our frontal lobes help us make compartments. These are handy places to put things. Compartmentalize. Moderation is okay, too. Try not to get boxed into your own compartments.

    A writer who does not write is just a human being, not a writer. Some self honesty is necessary, too. I say, “here is the space I write, or paint, or read. Here is my work set out before me. My job is to come back to my task as many times as it takes until I have met my contract with myself.” Self discipline is a self initiated task.

    With consistent and systematic activity, a routine, it becomes evident to myself this is my preferred activity. When the days go by, and I cannot bring myself to write, I make the task accessible. One sentence. A paragraph. 15 minutes staring at the paper (okay, that’s punishment!). If my writing is important to me, then I am bringing to myself the metaphors of my creative self as I work.

    Mindfulness of what I view as my obstruction transforms my obstructions into object lessons for being a better writer. This is the healing circle. In the Healing Garden, we can view our obstructions as a method of preparing to overcome our obstructions. This is the creative process inside the healing circle. It’s okay. It is the metaphor of the artist. Each word is practice. Each distraction is practice. Until it becomes a healing routine. — The Healing Garden gardener


    1. I, too, believe in most things being done close to the middle instead of either going to much one way or the other. With this said however, when first starting anything that is deemed good but is difficult, diligence and dedication must be established. This means that sometimes you must go to the edge, either on one side or the other.


Please comment on this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s