Nothing kills a writer’s drive like unfinished projects.
“I’ll just tidy the kitchen…”
“I’ll just read one more chapter…”
“I really ought to sort my sock drawer…”
It’s ironic because whatever you’re writing is an unfinished project but we tend to shuffle that to the bottom of our list of priorities. What exactly are we avoiding? Why are we so easily distracted? I can’t speak for everyone but find once I actually get started, I’m fine. But if there is something sitting undone, I have a hard time focusing. The time spent avoiding the unfinished project while sitting there struggling to write adds up quickly and soon you find that it would have been easier just to do the thing you’d been avoiding, so you can get back to what you really want to do. Write.
Almost two weeks ago, I received some disturbing news about someone I used to know. The details don’t matter, but what does is how it affected me. I suddenly decided that I was going to get my life in order and I was going to start in the basement. Not the figurative “basement of my subconscious”, but the actual basement of my home. It is a project that has sat undone and really nagging me for far too long. I asked myself why and realized that I just didn’t want to deal with my past. It was upsetting and scary and emotional and draining and and and and…
As it turns out, once I started it wasn’t all that bad. I had what turned out to be over 20 cans of paint sitting there, some of which had been there for years. I have been meaning to take it somewhere to be recycled but kept thinking it was “too big a project” to deal with. It took all of an hour to load it in my car and take it in. An hour. But it was such a huge weight lifted that I can’t believe I put it off for so long.
Boxes and bags of “stuff” that I just didn’t want to deal with. Completely random things, like a piece of molding from my van, which I haven’t had for four years. I didn’t even realize it still sitting under the stairs and had to stare at it for a couple of minutes to even figure out what it was and where it came from. I even discovered a few surprises, like a beautiful “doorway” wall hanging that I bought years ago and forgot I had.
I love this !
My toolbox was far too small and was also broken, so it couldn’t be closed. Into the bin it went and I bought myself a new one that is not only larger but actually fits everything. The bonus is that it’s blue, which is my favourite colour and has absolutely nothing to do with it’s function but makes me happy all the same.
I was merciless and very honest. No more “this might come in handy someday” or “I should probably keep that”. I did find myself saying “What the heck is THAT?” and “Where did THIS come from?” quite a bit. Part of the way though, I had this lightbulb moment. I was the one in charge. It is MY home, MY space, and no one else had any say in how this was going to be done. That one seemingly small shift in my perspective set me free. Anything that I wasn’t using, didn’t like, didn’t want, or never wanted in the first place but was guilted into taking was either tossed, given away, or donated.
It took about a week. When all was said and done, I dragged 7 giant garbage bags of junk to the curb, took all the paint to the recycling depot, and a carload of stuff to a charity garage sale. The energy in the house seems lighter and now I actually go down there just to look around. There is so much space that my Whippet runs laps! It hasn’t been that empty since before I moved in and I intend to keep it that way. Now that I’m on a roll, I think I’ll tackle the office.
Is there anything you’ve been putting off? What do you think is keeping you from getting started?