Spring Cleaning

March 2017

It’s that time of year again, the time of renewal, rebirth, warmer weather. Spring. Flowers bloom, trees bud, birds build their nests and, of course, the always dreaded-spring cleaning.

For me it’s not just deep cleaning every square inch of my house, it’s also about organization and getting rid of chaos. Every March our community does its annual Spring Yard Sale, which helps put a deadline on this annual tradition—I mean—chore.

What does that mean to me?

It’s going through every nook and cranny in my house and garage and looking at all my possessions to determine if it still has relevance in my life. If it does, it goes back on the shelf or in the closet. If it doesn’t, it goes in the box labeled yard sale.

I don’t know about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. It’s a time when decisions are made. Do I keep it? Or do I sell it or donate it if no one is interested in my used-once big name celebrity indoor grill. All I know is the item in question occupies valuable space in my home better suited for things I do use once I can easily find them.

Spring cleaning is also necessary in my writing. Instead of getting rid of old appliances and clothing, I’m getting ready of unnecessary words. When I go through my closet and pull out the winter jacket I wore in high school and ask myself if I need to keep it, I need to ask myself the same question in my manuscript. Do I really need that word? Do I need that word?

Take time to go through your manuscript and look for unnecessary or overused words and phrases. Determine if they are necessary or if there is a stronger verb or action that conveys your meaning. These are a few of mine, but this is far from the complete list of throwaway words.

Then, that, just, up, down, really, out, off, over, very, somewhat, somehow, suddenly definitely, certainly, probably, actually, and the dialogue tags; said, replied and etc.

Taking out these words makes my manuscript stronger by increasing my pacing and action. It also presents a more polished product for my editor.

Letting go of things has always been a challenge for me whether its possessions or words. This spring it will be different. I’m looking forward to the challenge of letting go of useless items and words and keeping only what I need. If only I could convince my children of that.