Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring Cleaning For The Mind

OK. I have the physical decluttering under control (i.e. it’s a work in progress.) 

Great right?

My desk is clean, the piles have been corralled and I should be able to sit down at a moment’s notice and churn out a couple of chapters, right? Right….that’s how creativity works. You flip that switch and the words just come. I’m being slightly sarcastic. I don’t know many writers who can work that way. (If you are one of them don’t tell me – leave me my illusions please.)

I wasn’t having writers block in the traditional sense. I had thoughts and words, but they were all tangled in my head. For the last year I’ve mainly been writing in spurts. I would jot down an idea during the day, or worse, make mental notes and hope they didn’t float away. But, when I finally had an hour at the end of the day, I was mentally exhausted from staring at a computer all day at work. My personal process has always been that I need time to ease into the writing. I need to find the right music, I might doodle a little bit, read over what I had written the last time, read another person’s blog, anything that will get my mind into writing mode. You might call this procrastination, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong, but that’s how my mind works. It has to be coerced in a way into being focused on writing. Unfortunately, after all this preparation, now I’m forty five minutes into the aforementioned hour. And if I only have an hour, well what can I really complete in the fifteen minutes that are left? 


(Yes, I yell at myself sometimes – again, all part of the process.)

Funny enough, in the middle of my Pinterest searches for minimalism, some random articles on self-care and morning rituals, kept popping up. I gravitated toward the ones that focused on people who were creative, or who were trying to be more creative. The morning rituals intrigued me – mainly because I’ve never been a morning person. Like ever. But they all pointed to the fact that your entire day could hinge on how your morning started. Prior to this my mornings had gone something like this. Snooze 5 times, at least, stumble from bed into workout clothes, attempt exercise routine (all while trying to wake up.) Then, while getting ready for work, my mind would be a steady stream of consciousness. Whatever was bothering me from the day before, what I was worried about for that day, some idea for my WIP that I needed to write down, and sometimes a quick prayer to get me through that day.

No wonder I felt mentally cluttered. 

So I pulled together the ideas that appealed to me the most and created a plan. The hardest part of the plan was the need to get out of bed – an hour earlier than I had been. Stay with me. I know it sounds like I’m a masochistic, but I needed to start my day off in a much calmer way. The only way to do that was to not literally hit the ground running. For the first week my goal was simply to get out of bed earlier. Anything that took place after that was considered a bonus. I’ll admit it was very difficult and I snoozed a couple of times. I actually set the alarm for earlier than one hour since I knew that would happen. As each day progressed I added in a new step. 

I dress in my workout clothes and make myself a bottle of lemon water and a strong cup of coffee. Moving to my desk, I listen to a meditation channel on Pandora. I have a couple of books of daily readings and depending on time and mood, I read at least one. By then my coffee and water should be half gone so my brain is (hopefully) ready to wake up. I start with a clean sheet of paper for each day. In the beginning it was mainly doodling and a couple of sentences about why I was awake at this ridiculous hour. But after a week the entries became longer, more detailed, actually making some sense. Some days I’m just venting about life. Sometimes it’s me trying to figure out an issue. There are even days that it almost turns into a prayer of sorts; maybe asking for the grace to get through just that one day, or for someone in my life who is dealing with something. I always end with a list of five things I am thankful for. I used to be very good about writing a thankful list every night, but it got away from me at some point. This way I start each day with a conscious effort to say thank you and be grateful.

At this point I’m more awake and ready to exercise without fear of falling over. From there I get ready for work and I’m ready for my day.

So that’s it – not an earth shattering change, but something that I feel is pushing me in the right direction. I’m about 3 weeks into the process and so far so good. Some mornings are easier than others. Some mornings I actually look forward to the ritual and the solitude. There are also times when all I want to do is turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. 

I’m a work in progress.

So far the biggest change I’m noticing comes from the little extra writing that I’m doing in the morning. I’ve noticed ideas are coming to me more frequently and when I do have time to write, it’s not taking me as long to get into writing mode. I’m being more productive, which has been my main goal all along. It’s still a little early to say it’s a major success, but I’m curious to see where this goes after I’ve been at it for a couple of months. I’ll keep you posted……



  1. Love all the awesome changes you are making - go girl!! Can't wait to hang out with you in PA next month!

  2. Thanks Sandi! Hoping all the little changes add up to something big 😉 Can't wait for our road trip!