Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

By Cheryl Oreglia

The title alone sends shivers up ones spine, but diving into this sort of work is essential, and the outcome can be quite liberating. I refer to it as a life edit. We do this when writing, weeding through our manuscripts, discarding extraneous words, unnecessary characters, why not dabble into these practices with our physical spaces? 
All you need to do is look at each item, one at a time, and decide whether or not to keep it and where to put it. Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo has her own Netflix show, she's trending on twitter, and her theory on stockpiling beloved books is causing quite a stir on social media. Why are we so attached to our possessions? Especially our stash of unread novels? Kondo claims hanging onto the past only serves to imprison your future. Time to wake-up and move boldly into your best possible life. 
"We are the products of editing, rather than of authorship." George Wald
She claims, "tidying is a dialogue with oneself." The work of carefully considering each object you own to see if it "sparks joy inside of you" is like conversing with oneself through the medium of our possessions," claim Kondo. This includes deciding what you want to bring with you into the future and what should be left behind? 
“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.” ― Patricia Fuller
Kondo claims the best time for decluttering is early morning, "the fresh morning air keeps your mind clear and your power of the discernment sharp." You sort by category, not location. For example, you individually tackle clothing, books, papers, sentimental items, and so on. Begin with the easier decisions and then move on to the more difficult ones, as if editing a book, drop extraneous words, before deleting characters, and important scenes. 
I have an adult emotional life and an editing system inside me which prevents me from being preposterously stupid. Stephen Hopkins
The idea is to pile all like items in the middle of a room, holding each one accountable, before deciding if "it sparks joy in your heart," if not, it must be discarded. This is not only simple but an accurate way to pass judgement on all your possessions. Harsh I know but an extraordinarily emancipation. 

"Items that we can't bring ourselves to discard even when they don't inspire joy are a real problem." But if they are not something you want to bring into your future, something that will favorably forward your plot, then it's time to let them go. 
Bling is passe, and I like my style to reflect just that. Ruthless editing defines true style perfectly. Leila Janah
Books! She says, "like clothes or any other belongings, books that have been left untouched on the shelf for a long time are dormant." She claims, "to truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived there purpose."

She says the true purpose of books is to convey information, the content of the books you have already read is inside you, keep only books that make you happy just to see them on your shelves, the ones you really love. She recommends 30 volumes or less! Oh my. This is an extremely difficult for writers, if you're anything like me, you return to meaningful works of inspiration over and over again.

"For books timing is everything." If you have a stack of books you haven't read in six months, they no longer have a purpose in your life, pass them along.

"To put your things in order means to put your past in order, too. It's like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward." Kondo says we have to move beyond the idea that more is better. Our possessions weigh us down both mentally and physically.
My goal is to strip things down so that you need just the right amount of words or shape to convey what you need to convey. I like editing. I like it very tight. Maya Lin
I remember reading in one of my "how to write" books that the reader must lug everything you write around in a backpack, up the steep mountain of your story, and it's important to avoid forcing your reader to carry a Volkswagen to the mountain top, only to find out it has nothing to do with the plot. This is what we do in when we harbor unnecessary junk in the closets our lives.
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” ― Dr. Seuss
As in writing, fewer words demand more action, letting go of cumbersome baggage allows our characters to flourish. She claims if we are satisfied that the past has contributed to the person we have become, thank the experience, and move on. It's all about trusting you intuition.

This is especially relevant to writers who consistently weed through a work in progress, letting go of the extraneous, and holding on to that which progresses the story. I recommend picking up a copy of Kondo's book, it's liberating, a life changing challenge to let go of the past, live in the present, bravely molding our future on the basis of relevant, essential, indispensable material. 

How many books do you harbor in your shelves? What do you think about weeding your life down to the essentials? Is it possible that things can limit or obstruct the future?

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime.


Mary Fan said...

I just started watching her Netflix show! I think there's a lot of wisdom in getting rid of stuff you don't need any more, *including books*, which seems to be controversial for some reason. Some people derive huge joy out of having enormous book collections, and good for them. But I think a lot of people just wind up stockpiling them for no reason (I'm one of those people who likes having lots of books, but even I'll admit I need to get rid of some that I really, really don't enjoy having around...)

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Hi Mary - Thanks for the comment. I've been watching her Netflix show too! The wisdom embedded in her words is life changing. Letting go of things that no longer bring us joy is a wonderful practice. Surround yourself with the things you love so everywhere your eyes land makes you smile. That's living. The book thing really hit home for me. I tend to pay way more books then I'll ever be able to read. Sometimes I'm supporting a writer, or it sounded interesting, but when it arrived it didn't really speak to me? Time to pass them along, maybe they'll land in the right persons hand. You never know. Thanks for reading Mary! Here's to sparking more joy in our lives!

Carrie Beckort said...

I've been hearing about this from a few friends lately, but haven't read her book or watched the series. When we purchased our home a few years ago we did reduce quite a bit. It was great to git rid of stuff and let of of the 'we have to display it because it was a wedding gift' and similar feelings. The books are tricky for me - yes I have unread books that make me feel like I'm behind, yet I'm not sure getting rid of them will help either since I like to complete things. Getting rid of them before I read them will just feel incomplete. A few years ago I did go through all my books and got rid of the ones that I didn't particularly like. That was a big step for me.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Hi Carrie - thank you for the comment! My daughter actually recommended the book to me, she said, "it was a life-changing experience" for her. I had to pick up a copy after hearing that. I didn't realize at the time how popular she was or controversial. It is an act of liberation to let go of things that no longer bring you joy. I watched a few of her shows and noticed how much happier her clients were after weeding through their belongings. When I got to the section in the book about letting go of books that no longer serve you I was a little shocked at her recommendation to keep only 30 books. When I saw she was trending on twitter it all began to make sense. I am a fan of keeping our possessions to a minimum, I've started with my clothes. I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks again Carrie for reading and responding.

Blogger Template by Designer Blogs