It all started when I was in Phoenix this month. Marie Kondo seemed to be everywhere. She was even part of a sermon at The Grove, a church I attended with my friends! We all talked about her in the hot tub at Aji Spa, and her philosophy and decluttering methods were referenced several times during the writing conference at ASU.
I don’t believe in coincidences. When something, or someone, keeps turning up over and over again, I know that it’s time for me to listen to whatever it is that they’re trying to tell me. So-this Saturday, I bought and read her book. Sunday, armed with lots of garbage bags, coffee, and a healthy dose of fear, I took the initial step towards a fresh, clutter-free life!
The first thing Marie instructed me to do was get rid of my husband so I sent him to the garage to work on his motorcycle! Next you need to gather every single piece of clothing you own and pile it in the middle of a large, open area. You can hang coats and dresses across a chair if you’d like. When I was done it looked like the humongous fungus in Michigan! Luckily, Marie had warned me that the mound could reach your waist.
Then comes the hard part. You have to physically handle each piece of clothing and ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” If you don’t feel joy-discard it! This was the toughest part for me. My resistance was palpable. I felt ridiculous asking my clothes questions. So, sometimes I didn’t! However, that ended up backfiring. I woke up in the middle of the night, started visualizing what was left in my closet, and realized that I had left things there that definitely did not make me feel joyous. Items that I was probably keeping for all the wrong reasons. The next morning, I took everything out and tried again, managing to cull about ten more items. I won’t lie-this was not a fun process for me (and it was only the first step!) Taking a long, honest look at the things you’ve chosen to surround yourself with can lead to some painful realizations and insights about your choices and behavior over the years.
As a rule, I’m not a huge follower of fads. However, digging deeper into the book, past the amazing statistics of how many tons of garbage bags various clients generate, Marie’s long waiting list, and how cleaning led her clients to make other essential changes in their lives, I read a few things that resonated with me.
- You can’t change your habits without changing your way of thinking.
- Reorganizing your home can lead to changes in lifestyle and perspective. Mess distracts us from issues we’ve been avoiding.
- Tidying is the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in. It allows you to live surrounded by the things you love.
You might be wondering how this all relates to writing. First of all, I love writing. It is the one thing that I can always count on to make me feel happy and satisfied, no matter how chaotic the rest of my life is. When I chose the writing life over a decade ago, I definitely chose joy!
Secondly, these tidying skills are what we writers use in every piece we write. The only difference is, we make every word fight for its life or be deleted; Marie makes every possession spark joy or go to the discard pile. Therefore, I know her premise is correct. To achieve the best piece possible, you need to be able to know what to keep and what has to go. I know for a fact how hard it is to let certain characters, quotes, sentences, or descriptions fall by the wayside. But often it has to be done for the story to be brought to life the way it was meant to be and reach its fullest potential.
Finally, I know that she is right when she says tidying is a tool, not the final destination. Right now, I’m in the process of transitioning from writing nonfiction and parenting articles to trying some new styles of writing-travel and some fiction. Rearranging and eliminating, allows you to make room for something new, perhaps something that will make your life, and your prose, even richer!