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Spring cleaning for writers

If you’ve spent the dark winter months holed up with a blanket, binge-watching television and eating goldfish crackers (not that we’d ever do such a thing), then it’s time to shake off the cobwebs, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Here are nine tips inspired by spring cleaning chores for revitalizing your writing.

Clean your workspace. PC World has an in-depth guide to cleaning your computer, though at the very least you should wipe down your keyboard with an antibacterial cleansing solution. Remove any clutter from your desk, put away anything that doesn’t belong there, and finally throw out the dried-up pens you’ve been collecting.

Get rid of distractions. Uninstall casual games (sorry, Angry Birds fans; the fight against the piggies will carry on without you) and get a browser plugin such as LeechBlock to block or limit your access to timewasting sites like Facebook. If you’re glued to your Smartphone, make a habit of charging it in another room so that you’re not tempted to check it every three minutes.

Tidy your files. Whether you write longhand in notebooks or type on a computer, chances are you probably have half-finished projects and scraps of ideas squirreled away. Some of it will still be useful, some of it will seem silly in hindsight, and some of it just won’t make any sense. All those index cards scribbled with cryptic notes? Yeah, you can go ahead and get rid of those. Make sure you organize and clearly label your files, whether they’re physical or digital, so that you can actually find things when you need them!

Create a backup. Even though most of us know we should be saving our work often and keeping backups just in case, how many of us routinely do it? If your work exists only on the hard drive of your computer, it’s time to back it up in at least one other place. An external hard drive is a good choice, as is cloud storage. Make a habit of updating the backup files regularly.

Update your editorial calendar. You have one of these, right? Whether you’re a blogger, a freelancer, or an aspiring novelist, an editorial calendar is an essential tool for staying focused and meeting your goals. Deadlines, even when self-imposed, can help you be more productive.

Make a schedule. While your editorial calendar provides a timeline for your writing goals, it’s your day-to-day, butt-in-chair time that gets the work done. You don’t have to work for exactly an hour every morning, but a regular routine can help shake you out of the waiting-for-inspiration blues. Check out these habits of famous writers for motivation!

De-clutter your thoughts. When you sit down to write during your scheduled time, there’s no room for worrying about the bills, or the possibility of an asteroid heading toward Earth, or what Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are up to. (Those krazy kids, will they ever learn?) As with any mindfulness activity, every time your mind strays, gently redirect your thoughts to the task at hand.

Throw out old drafts and failed starts. When you were going through your files, did you find multiple early drafts of a novel that you gave up on years ago? What about sketches for articles that never quite gelled? If you find something intriguing amongst this debris, salvage it to be repurposed later, but otherwise move on to new ideas.

Clean up your work in progress. Take a look at your most recent project. How clean is your draft? If your WIP is cluttered with sentences or scenes that don’t work, cut them out. It’ll be painful at first, but your writing will flourish once the dead wood is trimmed. While you’re at it, spruce up the grammar and spelling with an automated proofreader like Grammarly, which deep-cleans your writing.

Which spring cleaning chores have you been neglecting? Let us know in the comments!

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