After spending several days in July, cleaning out my mother's basement and closets I'm starting to freak out a little at the amount of stuff I have. It's not that I have a lot of nick-nacks and gee-gaws sitting on top of side tables and in curio cabinets in fact I hardly have anything on the flat surfaces of my home...more because I don't know how to decorate and I don't like to shop, than any concerted effort at minimalism. What I do have is piles of papers, boxes in closets, too many kitchen cupboards and rubbermaid containers under desks and in store rooms...all with too much stuff in them.
As the online house organizing guru Flylady says "You can't organize clutter, you can only get rid of it." So I decided to start going through some of these boxes. The photo above shows a collection of journals, sketchpads and notebooks I've filled over the years. Most of them are purse size books that I thought would be handy to have incase I saw or overhear something that inspired a writing idea, or heard a good quote or book recommendation, or if I found a good recipe in a magazine while waiting at the doctor's office. I flipped through a few of these books and turns out most of them are filled with To-Do lists, menu plans and grocery lists. The few notes that looked like inspiration for writing ideas were often illegible, and rarely made any sense.
Take for instance a numbered list of twenty words, written in red marker with the cryptic title: 20 words. I think it might have been a list that my artist/writer friend Jeannie and I came up with over the phone one day by taking turns pointing to random words in the dictionary and then giving ourselves the task of writing a short story containing all those words. I'm not sure about Jeannie, but I'm pretty sure I never did the task. It looks like it could be fun though, and since the writers I know are always looking for interesting writing exercises, why don't you give it a try....
Here's the list:
8. single minded
15. penny pincher