Monday, March 9, 2020

Spring-Clean Your Writing Life

By Tim Sudduth

Finally, March has arrived. (Cue the trumpets.) Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and the days are getting longer and warmer. Spring is in the air. (Cue sneezing fit.)

I love spring, despite the allergies. The dull browns change into a variety of vibrant colors, and the dead of winter comes to life. It’s amazing how this affects me both physically and mentally.

For some reason, when the sun goes down, my energy level plummets. Zip in the gas tank. In the winter, I’m slipping into my PJs well before six. What’s with that? But as the days get longer, I have no problem staying up.

Which is great because the brighter sun helps my wife discover the dirty windows, the dusty walls, the fading paint on our house. Which brings us to (can you guess it?)—spring-cleaning. My wife claims this is one of the most glorious times of the year. A time that brings our family closer. Makes our home a happier place. I’ve learned to say, “Yes, dear.”

All kidding aside, spring-cleaning is a great concept to use in all areas of our lives. After a period of time, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, bad or unhelpful habits creep in and keep you from being your most efficient.

How can we spring-clean our writing?

Set a time to work. To me, later never comes. I’ll get around to it never seems to work. If it’s important to me, I must set aside the necessary time I’ll need. Whether that means making time at the beginning or end of my day, or setting aside time on a weekend, the only way I can get something done is make time for it.

Check that you’re meeting your goals. This is always a balancing act for me. I usually have great intentions, but then life gets in the way. This week, I have two family members who need to be taken to their doctor appointments. So, I need to adjust either by putting off my deadline or finding other times to write.

Sometimes life is more important than my plans. Family is always first. Especially children, because they are only that age for a blink of the eye. However, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Even deadlines, with planning, can usually be adjusted.

Watch out for time thieves. At other times, less important things elbow their way into my day—can you say HGTV—and I need to get out of the habit of stopping for a ten-minute break and turning on an hour program. It’s amazing how much time we lose each day doing mindless things.

Make sure you’re doing the job you’ve planned. My brother came to help me work in my yard last week. He started his chain saw, checked that the tree he was cutting would fall in a safe place, and took his position. That’s when I got his attention and told him it was the tree behind him that needed to come down.

It’s so easy to feel good about being busy, but busyness doesn’t necessarily get you where you want to go. Often, it robs you of energy that you could be using more effectively.
As writers, we often find it hard to know the most productive tasks we should do. Should I write another story, study on improving my SEO, leave a message on a blog, or work on my email list? On all of these, and dozens of other things we writers face, opinions vary.

So, Tim, what would you say I should do?

Well, thanks for asking. Pray, experiment, adjust. And be open to the serendipity God might send your way. As I’ve heard so many times, life is an ever-changing journey. Or a house that needs cleaning.

What ways have you found to make your time more efficient?

Photos courtesy of, radnatt, and Stuart Miles.)


Tim Suddeth is a regular attendee of The Blue Ridge Mountains Writers Conference and a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He’s currently working on his fifth novel. He has a monthly post on The Write Conversation and is trying to make a dent in his to-read bookcases. You can follow him at on his blog at or on Twitter @TimSuddeth.

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