Arts & Culture

Does Your Creative Life Need a Spring Cleaning? Part 1

by Michele Berger

Wow, we’re now in the second quarter of the year! Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday when we were writing down resolutions for our creative lives in 2021. Have some of those commitments and intentions gotten sidetracked since then?

Totally understandable. Spring can put us back on track. This season enables us to connect with a feeling of renewal that we begin to see physically manifested all around us. Spring also powers us with the energy to tackle the physical spaces (and states of mind) that no longer serve our creative life.

Clutter can immobilize our creative lives. I know from personal experience how debilitating and draining it can be to work in a perpetually cluttered space. Over the years, I’ve developed a three step decluttering process undertaken during Spring that’s been transformational for myself and my clients. I call it the 3Rs:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your creative life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of mind to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful creative life.

Let’s start with reassessing your space. 

Go and look at your creative space. What’s the state of it? Do you feel a sense of ease when you look at it? Is it crammed with stuff that belongs in other rooms of your house? If you live with other people, is this space known as your special writing/photography/painting/knitting area?

Have you even claimed some special place yet, or are you waiting for permission from someone else? If you haven’t claimed a creative space, it may mean you don’t feel entitled to or worthy of a creative life. 

Survey your space and make a quick list of what you feel needs your attention most. The questions below are not exhaustive*, but offer a good place to begin.

  • Do you have too much or too little of something in your space?
  • Do you need more or less shelf space?
  • Do you need to invest in a better chair, desk, or drafting table?
  • Are there big physical jobs you’d like to do (e.g., paint, add shelves)?
  • Do you need to physically clean your computer?
  • Do you need to organize and sort your paper files? 
  • Would it be useful to create an index for your piles of journals, scripts, flash drives, DVD’s (I know some of you have them!), boxes of sewing materials, or whatever you consider your primary creative material?
  • Are there paper notes from conferences, master classes, residencies and/or workshops (from last year or previous years) that need to be reviewed and filed? I bet there are still some nuggets to mine. Take time to honor that work.
  • Are there financial records related to your creative life that need to be updated?
  • Are you keeping track of your intellectual property (i.e., contracts, royalty statements, when rights expire, trademarks, etc.)?
  • Are there digital materials that need to be read, listened to, and acted on? During the pandemic many of us signed up for tons of virtual programming, e-courses, and webinars. 
  • When was the last time you did a thorough backup of your computer files? Do you need to delete or add programs?
  • Do you have visible reminders of your creative accomplishments? Is it time to take some down and put up new ones?

(*adapt this question and others to your needs if writing isn’t your primary focus)

Once you have your list you can break each item down into specific tasks.

It’s important not to get overwhelmed during Spring cleaning. Many people decide they will devote a day to a Spring cleaning project and then realize that they’re cranky after two hours and that the task requires at least two days. Start small and reward yourself often. Why not take from now until the official start of Summer to Spring clean? You could choose one project each week. I suggest working in 15-30 minute intervals so that there’s less chance of getting frustrated and overwhelmed. I enjoy using an online stopwatch for a decluttering session and then rewarding myself with a few squares of dark chocolate. If small rewards are motivating for you, plan them into the process.

Michele Tracy Berger is a scholar and creative writer. She is founder of The Creative Tickle®, a creativity coaching practice. To receive her free guide: Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19 go to: