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The KonMari Method for the Disorganized Writer

As writers, we often find ourselves in a sea of notebooks and papers from a lifetime ago. While some of them are important inspirational material, let’s make peace with the fact that most of them are not.

So how do we tell them apart? How do we leave behind the junk-hoarder in us? Let’s ask the tidying expert of our time, Mari Kondo.

The KonMari method is a trademarked method to tidying up, and that’s saying something. Her books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy are deemed true life-changers and have sold over 8.5 million copies worldwide.  

Her secret? Pretty straightforward: Discard items that lack value. Keep only items that spark joy.

Let’s see how it applies to a writer’s life.

  1. Follow the Rules

    i. Commit yourself to tidying up – First of the six rules of the KonMari method is the commitment to the process. Don’t abandon it halfway.

    ii. Imagine your ideal lifestyle – Visualize a workday without clutter, or a clean, picture-perfect room.

    iii. Finish discarding first – You can tackle storing later.

    iv. Tidy by category, not by location – This way, you won’t move clutter from your room to the hall in the name of cleaning up.

    v. Follow the right order – Tackle clothes first and then move to books, papers, komono (miscellany), and finally, sentimental items. This order helps stay focused on your task instead of being distracted by a random photo from your memory file.

    vi. Ask yourself if it sparks joy – Joy is the secret sauce to an organized house. Keep only the ones that bring you joy.

  2. Tidying Books

As writers, we share a special bond with books. But not all books spark joy.

Except for the precious books you absolutely must have, let go of the books that gather half of your household dust. This includes the books you’ve read halfway and the ones you’ve already read with the promise to read again.

Donate them to your local library or to someone who’d put them to better use.

This is a subtle invitation to improve the quality of information you let into your life. Over time, you’ll notice a clear spark of joy reaching out to you from your collections.


3. Tidying Papers

The KonMari method to tidying up papers is the simplest of all: Get rid of everything.

Yes, this includes the manuscripts that will never see the light of day.

A single paper takes up little space, which makes us tend to keep them. But inevitably, a pile gathers, and then two piles, and three. . . Digging through them is not a joyful process.

Start by gathering all the papers into one place. Keep only the ones you have a clear purpose for, such as the ones you’re currently working on, the ones you’ll need some time in the future, and the ones you’ll always need. The rest you can do without.


4. Tidying Stationery Supplies

Except for the supplies in your go-to list, discard the rest. It’s easy to hold on to promotional and special edition items, but if they don’t serve a purpose in any clear time in the future, let them go.

Remember, minimalism is the best organizing strategy. Good luck KonMari-ying your way out of clutter!

February 13, 2021

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