Spring Clean Your Writing?


Dear Friends,
Today I attended a “spring cleanse” workshop that combined yoga and ayruvedic medicine; I went immediately to the groovy store afterward and stocked up on all kinds of greens: bok choy, fennel, cilantro, tatsoi, chard. I bought organic turmeric and fenugreek seeds. I made a stir fry with so many greens it seemed impossible that I could eat them all, but I did—oh yes, I did. I could feel my body soaking them up.

In the list of things to do for this 7-day cleanse—which includes drinking some vile tasting powder in water every night before bed, and eating Kitchari (mung bean and rice stew) every day—is “mindful, deep breathing.” To cleanse means to give the body and the mind a little break. It means to create optimal conditions for healing.

On my way home, I wondered how this might apply to our writing. What would a “spring cleanse for writing” look like? This is what came to mind for me: making a plan to get control of my notebooks from my weekly writing practice. Type up what calls to be typed up, and let go of the rest. Organize these snippets by theme. Go through my writing folders and store away those documents that are no longer relevant or useful.

If I think of this as a “cleanse” rather than a chore, I think my attitude toward it may lighten; I’ll be friendlier toward both myself and my writing, knowing I’m giving both the respect they deserve. I suspect that, with this frame of mind, I won’t torture myself with indecision. and it will become pretty clear what stays and what goes.

What would you do to “spring clean” your writing? What small step can you take to spruce things up a bit in that part of your life?

With love,


8 thoughts on “Spring Clean Your Writing?

  1. Such a good idea, spring cleaning of the notebooks and the computer documents, and the manilla folders of old files containing handwritten notes from way back. I have journals/notebooks that need to be cleaned up in case I die suddenly (who should have to read some of that angst?) but also there are some things in there that I’m pleased with. Throw away (shred) the dross, capture the inspired snippets. Like you, there are some writing practice bits as well.

    Recently I pulled out a 20 year old novel start, some 50 printed-out pages but the source documents were lost , so it all has to be re-transcribed. There are handwritten process and background notes too, fading fast, to be entered and added to the file. My editing group likes the beginning of the novel, so maybe it’s worth pursuing.

    That idea of having a paperless office, or writing room? No more archive boxes? It’s actually doable. I think.

    There’s definitely enough to do to keep me busy for a while. But first I need to catch the bus to the beach for a day on my own. Maybe spring clean my mind.

  2. Delighted with your “spring cleansing” metaphor for a process I know well. In fact I wrote a whole book about it with my dear friend Rosalie Deer Heart. We called it Harvesting Your Journals and more than a decade later it’s still on Amazon.

    Your metaphor has inspired me to dive into more than a years worth of journals, this time in the spirit of spring cleaning and I’m amazed how enlivened the process feels now. Thank you!

  3. Thank you Alison! Your book sounds wonderful, and so needed, now more than ever. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the fruits of our writing practice; sounds like you and Rosalie provide some good guidance in this endeavor.

  4. Thanks for this wonderful suggestion/metaphor. I will use it in my yoga teaching and in my teaching of writing and, best of all, in my own writing practice. I just spaded my garden and ordered some seeds. Now to turn over the soil and compost in those journals, wondering what waits to be brought to light . . .

  5. I need to put away all the doubt that piles up in front of my computer. And then I need to shove my to-do list (clean the kitchen, wash a load of clothes, clean out the junk drawer, go to the grocery store, add mulch to the perennial bed) under the couch.