Let's Stop Overlooking This Pivotal Aspect of Our (Soon-to-Be Amazing!) Reading Routines

It *seems* like a small, silly, forgettable piece of our reading habits. ... But is it? I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a game-changer for me, and you, and everyone else! | lucyflint.com

Sometimes, the most important parts of a routine are precisely the parts we consistently overlook.

So even though today's topic may seem like a silly, frivolous question to ask about our reading routines, I'm convinced that it's worth digging into.

And for those of us who struggle with getting to our reading, it could be a complete game-changer. 

(Also? It just might be the yummiest part of this reading recess series. Ooooh. Gettin' excited.)

All right, lionhearts. So, we know that where we work, and the quality of the place where we write, has a bearing on how we FEEL about doing that work, right?

Our working environment is sending us a message. It might not even be a message we consciously notice—it's probably just under the radar. 

But it is definitely telling us how we feel about ourselves as writers, how we feel about this work, and what our approach to writing is. 

I keep coming back to this truth: that when my writing life feels out of whack, one of the questions I need to ask myself is, has my writing environment gone offline somehow? 

It's an important question.

So... now I want to try something I've never done before. I want to apply that same question to reading.

For the first time basically ever, I want to ask the question: Where do I do most of my reading? 

And, more importantly: What is that space communicating to me? 

See, when I was working really hard to tell myself that reading really does count as work, I moved my reading to my writing desk. I sat upright, typed notes into my computer, elbows on the hard wooden surface.

Conscientious. Disciplined. Focused.

Um. Yes, it did feel like work...

TOO much like work. 

So then I moved my reading practice to my bed. I sprawled among the pillows, covered up with a soft afghan...

annnnd I definitely fell asleep. More than once.

So this month, as I've been powering through fiction, I've felt a bit displaced. Nowhere feels quite right.

Hmm.

I've also been reading The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. (Which, like I've said before, you are going to hear MUCH more about later, because it is the most insanely brilliant thing ever and it is totally changing my life. It's AMAZING. I'm so thrilled.) 

Ahem.

Anyway, Cameron keeps talking about how our artistic nature, our artistic self, is very much like a child.

Bright. Curious. Full of questions. 

And also? Largely motivated by play. By joy. By enthusiasm. 

What I keep finding out as I read, is that: Our artistic self loves to play and make messes. It does not so much love a life ruled by rigid, strict discipline.

HUH.

So—because Cameron's book has been right about SO MANY THINGS—I have to believe that this is true too.

And that's got me thinking. 

I'm wondering about how to apply the child-like joy I used to feel about reading ... to my actual reading space.

Heh heh heh.

I'm getting super super excited about this. Like, I almost can't believe I'm thinking about it. But: 

I'm considering making myself an all-out reading nook.

With yummy pillows and mosquito netting and heck, maybe even twinkle lights. 

Maybe that sounds silly. Foolish. 

But I know that reading is darned important. (Not to mention, it's basically half of my job description.)

And I know that I'm much more motivated by the idea of reading as play, as joy, as curiosity. That's how I read when I was a kid, when reading was fun and simple and easy.

So, I think it's time to appeal to that child version of me. And ask her what she wants.

And she says: "All of the pillows, and how about adding big cozy pouf? Also, yes to the netting, and are you kidding me, of COURSE the twinkle lights!!"

So that's my answer then.

Oooooh.

Well, that's going to be my project in the next couple of weeks. (I have a massively tight schedule for a week and a half, but then: I'm gonna rearrange some furniture and set this thing up!!)

Okay. I'm grinning ear to ear while I type this. I can't help it. Yeah, I'm over thirty years old, but what does that even have to do with it?

Why not have a totally scrumptious reading nook for myself?

... And what about you? Do you have an place that you tend to use for reading more than other places? 

What does it say to you—about yourself as a reader, about the act of reading?

Does it invite you in? Or does it feel cold and strict? 

When you think about a place to read, what's appealing for you? What makes you think, "HECK YES, I'm going to go read for an hour!"

Can you take a little time this week, and make your reading place a bit more intentional? Inviting?

What tweaks would it take, to make your reading area much more appealing? 

If you want some crazy inspiration, I found three roundups of swoon-worthy reading nooks: here, here, and here!  

I'd love to hear what you're going to do!! And I'll keep you posted on how my reading nook comes together. 

I think it's gonna be very much worth it.


Reading report: Yes, I finished the second book of my challenge!! I was a little disappointed with the ending of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I didn't feel like there was really enough satisfaction to the climax and conclusion. But there were still bits that I liked (especially how he developed the world of Haarlem). Most of all, the experience of reading itself was still worth it. 

I've already plunged into my next bookone I've been looking forward to for a long time: Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, by Lynne Jonell. I read the third Emmy book awhile ago (not realizing it was part of a set!) and I loved it. So funny and charming. I've been looking forward to reading the first book in the set for a while. 

Mmm! Nothing like a good middle grade adventure with a talking rat. Right up my alley. ;) 

Making Room for All that Writerly Brilliance (In Other Words, Let's Clean Already!)

Heads up: It's about to get really practical in here.

It's hard to think in a cluttered space. You know that. I know that. We all know that. ... So let's take some time and kick the clutter today! | lucyflint.com

Why are we going to talk about actual cleaning on a writing blog?

Because, my lionhearted friend, a cluttered physical writing space takes up too much room in our minds

If, in the midst of our writing, we're dealing with broken tools, pens that don't work, lost papers, and junk-filled drawers... it's going to be really hard to hear all the plot breakthroughs we're listening for.

You know? 

Tough to be wildly creative if part of our brains are stuck fighting our environment, trying to find the plot bunnies amidst the dust bunnies.

It's so easy to neglect where we're working. After all, our main focus is on just getting our writing in, day after day.

It's totally understandable.

If you're like me, you generally know how to clean. It's just ... it doesn't happen.

Which is why today isn't so much of a "how to" guide. Just a bit of a nudge in a tidier direction.

So let's grab a little bit of time for this today, and dive in!

You can do this in one of three ways: 

1) Go BIG.

Pull everything off your desk, out of drawers, off bookshelves. Empty file folders. Make a day of it! 

Haul bags of recycled papers out of your office. Purge your shelves of books that you don't need, or don't absolutely love

Deal with all the old drafts you've printed out and kept hanging around. (If you're feeling up to it, toss them all out. Dance in the space you've just cleared.)

Dust everything! Vacuum! Polish! 

And then feel that wonderful sense of wellbeing that comes after a day of cleaning hard.

2) Or, go MEDIUM.

If life is crowded and spring cleaning—while a nice idea—just isn't going to work this week (or this month!) then try this option. 

Focus on just one zone in your writing space. Try to pick the area that's been bugging you the most. (You know the one!) 

Budget just an hour or two. 

Whatever area you decide on, try to get it as decluttered and spruced up as possible. 

A little can go a long way, you know? Even if you just have time for that, you'll feel such a huge relief and clarity afterward.

3) And we totally won't judge you if you decide to go MICRO.

I get it. Personally, I'm super low on stamina lately, so if this is the best option, then that's great. No worries at all. 

Pick one small thing and clean it up. Tidy it. Declutter it. Or just get rid of it.

And whatever that looks like is fine.

Maybe you just empty out a pencil cup: make sure every pencil in it is sharpened, and every pen actually works. And that you even like all of them. And that you like the pencil cup, too.

That's it! 

And then—ahhhh. Feel that little rush of peace, every time you look at it, every time you reach for a pen. 

See what I mean? Even dealing with just a small space can have a big reward.

But no matter what amount of cleaning and clearing you did, bring something lovely into your writing space.

Yes! You know I'm a sucker for this. But take some time and bring some beauty into your writing area. 

Maybe it's a small vase of flowers. Or a candle that smells ah-mazing. Or even something that makes you laugh.

Heck, you can go crazy and just re-beautify everything in your writing life. Get allllll the lovely stuff. 

On the other hand, it doesn't have to be major: I have an owl mug that holds my Sharpies. It's a sly reference to my work in progress, but it's also just dang cute.

I've also spent an afternoon stamping silly polka dots on all my file folders. (I just used a little paint and the eraser on the end of a regular pencil. Easiest. Craft. Ever.) They still make me smile!

So it can be small. But treat yourself to something lovely in your office.

... There. Isn't that better? Can you feel the extra space in your head? It's almost a physical sensation, isn't it? Crazy how that works. 

So here's to a freshened writing zone, and a fresh writing week!


Random-ish side note: Yes. I DID just read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and yes, it is my new favorite thing, and yes, I now want to overhaul EVERYTHING. Trying to pace myself. We'll see how that goes...

How to Bring Playfulness Back Into Our Writing Lives

Here you go, four more prompts for loving your writing life like crazy.

Because writers who love their writing and who give it all they've got will create better books and a better marketplace and better readers with better lives for a better world. 

Whoa. Hold up. Did I just say we're changing the world?

Yes. Yes I did.

And here you were thinking it was just another Thursday. ;)

We're aiming for less angst and more play this weekend. Loving our writing lives.

We can camp out too long in the work and routines and productivity side of things... Every now and then, you gotta let loose and play. Your writing life with thank you. (Four more prompts for loving your writing life.) | lucyflint.com

Okay? Sound good? 

Let's go!


February 18: Write a letter.

It is so easy for me to get into a kind of productivity-and-optimization loop.

I'm trying to be a good boss, right? And it usually takes all my skills to manage some kind of balance between really hard work and excellent self-care. Whew!

I focus so hard on trying to do it all that I forget about... play.

About throwing every plan out the window now and then for the sake of a creative romp.

I forget to explore, to go on creative dates, to seek writing adventures.

Obviously, we can't play all the time. We've got books to write! And routines are the BFFs of productivity.

And yet...

Every now and then, the writing life—the creative life—needs a big injection of off-the-wall fun. It keeps us engaged, it churns up new ideas, it helps us be more advanced problem solvers. It keeps us from burning out, getting blocked, hitting walls.

It is super important. We have to take time to play and delight and discover.

What does that look like for you and your writing life? That's what we're going to explore.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: It's our third Thursday, and so our third letter-writing prompt!

This time, start by saying, Dear Writing Life, I wish we did more of...

And then go from there. Take ten to fifteen minutes, and have some fun with it. Dig around to find what it is that you're missing in your creativity, what you're craving in your writing.

What sounds outrageously fun to you? What kinds of "research" would be incredible? What kind of intrepid explorer-writer do you really want to be?

Go crazy. And fill your letter with all the things you genuinely wish you were doing more of in your writing life.

And then? Pick one. (If they all seem impossible, pick part of one.)

Choose something, and then, you know, do it. 

Try to do some version of it today, or this weekend, or sometime soon. But add a little taste of that off-the-wall play to your writing life.


February 19: Go off on an adventure together.

There's something extra special about going to literary places. Large dramatic libraries, the homes and significant place of famous authors, book-lover festivals... 

Mmmm. It's so nurturing to remember, now and then, that we're part of a much, much bigger tribe of readers, writers, scribblers, creators, storytellers, and dreamers. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Take some time to go on a literary pilgrimage. This can be as elaborate or un-elaborate as you like.

Maybe you go to a local literary site. (If you're fortunate enough to live near one, that is. But do a little searching before assuming you're disqualified, because you might be surprised at famous authors who lived near by!)

Or maybe you head off to a really glamorous library that's not too far away. (All those books... swoon!)

Maybe you hit your local university's library, but you finally nose around their rare books area. Or you finally go to that used bookstore you've been meaning to check out, and you just get lost for a while.

If you're in the middle of the middle of nowhere, it is totally okay to go online for this, and browse beautiful libraries, or investigate your favorite authorial places online.

(Oooh, look, here are 15 famous author's beautiful estates, and 12 literary pilgrimages, and the Library of Congress recorded podcasts from past book festivals...  ) 


February 20: Word revelry.

A love of writing and a love of reading: it boils down to a love of words. 

Which is why, today, we're going to browse a book about words, just for the heck of it. 

Have you gloried in the entries of a dictionary in a while? And I mean an actual, paper-and-ink-and-binding kind of dictionary, not just entries on a screen. (Shudder.) 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Find a book that's full of words and what they mean. 

Some sort of dictionary or compendium or thesaurus. 

And just play around! Read entries at random.

Pronounce (out loud! dramatically!) all the words you haven't heard of before.  

Find the quirkiest ones. Read up on their etymologies, on the histories of where the words came from, their little family trees.

Summon the kind of mood that makes you want to buy souvenirs on your travels, or pick up river stones while hiking: Read these words with an eye toward taking them home with you. 

Look for words that are beautiful or strange, and pick 'em up. Put them in your pockets.

Write down your favorites and stick them in your writing area. 

Hold on to your delight in words. It's one of the most constant sources of magic we have.


February 21: Tumble into paragraphs.

Yep, the third Sunday of the challenge looks just like the rest. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Get a book and get cozy, and then fall headlong into a lazy pool of reading.

This isn't reading fast, to clock an impressive number pages-per-hour.

This isn't reading to cram for information.

This is reading for the love of it.

So let yourself slow down. Linger over the sentences.

This kind of slow, dreamy reading can be game-changing, by the way. It helped me through one of the hardest times in my life.

During an emotionally brutal year of college, I would sneak off to an empty little common room with a fireplace, and I'd sit there and read, very slowly. I imagined that I could hear the writer speaking directly to me, as if he had written every word just so I could hear it, just at that moment.

... And it wasn't any kind of dizzy gushy poetry, either. It was a few personal essays (from this book) by Max Beerbohm and G.K. Chesterton and E.B. White.

For those hours of reading, I pretended that they were all sitting around me, smoking pipes, and speaking these amazing sentences, making me laugh, and transporting me.

It was like a true teleportation experience, a vacation among literary uncles, and yes, it helped enormously.

That kind of reading is a beautiful thing.

So find some time, and go deep with your reading today. 

Go Flirt with Books! (And Other Fun Ways to Love the Writing Life)

Okay, lionhearts. How's it going for you?

I hope you're having fun with this Love Your Writing Life series, and that you're experiencing a bit more fun and a lot more love in your writing life.

... I'm aiming for butterflies in the stomach, but anything cheery is good with me!

Over the next few days, we'll be celebrating more and more... Ready? Let's go!

The next installment of the Love Your Writing Life series: we're going to be flirting with books, celebrating our happiest writing moments, giving gifts, and savoring words. SO much writerly fun--join us! | lucyflint.com

February 11: Write a letter.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Just like last Thursday, we're taking a little time today to write a letter to the Writing Life. But this time, let's begin by saying: 

Dear Writing Life, I remember when you and I...

Let the letter be full of your happiest moments together. Feel free to just list 'em out: all the best times in your life of words, whatever that was, however it look. 

All your happy moments around reading, writing, words, bookstores, friends who love talking about books and writing, the mythology around Shakespeare, the movie Midnight in Paris, author crushes, your favorite fiction, the characters you invented, the moments when you were writing and it felt like flying...

All of it. Get it all down.

If you can, try to capture what you first loved about it. What drew your attention. What was bubbling in your heart when you decided to commit, to get serious about it.

When you're done, you'll have one of the best resources you can possibly create: a letter that you can reread every time you feel discouraged, when you get nasty criticism, when you have too many days where the writing is hard.

You'll have your best reminder, and in your own words, of what you most love in the writing life: It's your personalized guide for getting back on track.


February 12: Go flirt at a bookstore.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Get yourself to a bookstore, or a library, or any other place that has shelves and shelves of books.

And then, get flirtatious. 

Not with other people! Pfft. I mean with books.

Scan the titles, open dozens of them, read all the first lines on one shelf, or (if you're feeling very brazen) read all the final pages.

Flip through them at random, run your fingers over the spines, smell the pages. Admire the fancy endpapers, the beautifully rough-cut edges.

Be one of those eccentric daydreamy book lovers.

In the words of that famous relationship specialist Ray Bradbury,

You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders
to sniff books like perfumes
and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.

To which I would add: By all means, get yourself a raspberry & white chocolate mocha at the coffee shop.

I mean, let's go all out. This is love after all.


February 13: Buy flowers; buy chocolates.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Give your writing life a gift. Something fun, something special.

It can be really silly and playful (bright and cheery office supplies!), or it can be super serious (amazingly fancy fountain pen). 

It doesn't have to be expensive or super involved, but it DOES have to make your heart beat faster. A little giddiness is a very, very good thing.

You can go as far with this as you'd like: overhaul your office area and make it feel like a place where you would love to spend your time.

Design a writing life care package and then give it to yourself.

... Or just grab a cheap but lovely candle and put rose petals all over your desk.

If you can't afford to buy anything, no worries. I'm with you. The writing life doesn't necessarily bring in money—so let's do something else to express affection.

Rearrange your office area, bring in a lamp or cozy pillows from other parts of your house. Brighten it up. Make it beautiful.

Or hand letter a wonderful writerly quote that means a lot to both of you. (If you need inspiration, I put a bunch of my favorite quotes into this post.) Make some art. Handmade gifts are often the best!

Whatever it looks like for you—make your writing space more lovely, more special, more fun. Make it feel noticed.


February 14: Savor a meeting of minds.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: No matter what your other Valentine's Day plans are, take a little time today to read something beautiful. Something delightful.

It can be romantic poetry, or a sharp and funny personal essay. A stack of Elephant & Piggie books, or your favorite Agatha Christie mystery.

But whatever you choose, take a little time to snuggle up with words. Decorate your day with language. 

Savor the words. Try to hold them on your tongue for a moment. Let yourself read slow, read at a snail's pace.

Like every word is made of expensive chocolate.

Catch the feel of the phrase, the way language is like music. 

It's a beautiful thing, the reading life.

(And oh, if today feels more like Singleness Awareness Day, I'm totally with you. Invite a really amazing book to keep you company. Do a little readerly time travel, a bit of teleportation.

After all, Stephen King says that reading is telepathy, "a meeting of the minds." Who are we to argue? Take some time for mind-meeting. It's really not a bad way to spend February 14.)


And there you have it, lionhearts. We're about halfway through February at this point, and halfway through the series! I hope it's been fun for you so far!

I would looooove to know: What has been the most fun prompt for you? What have you enjoyed the most, or what's been the most productive? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Meanwhile, Happy Valentine's Day, you beautiful writers! And come back on Monday for your next batch of prompts.

Your Next Vacation Just Might Transform Your Writing Life

A paradoxical thing happens when we visit the places where famous writers wrote. And it just might change your writing life. | lucyflint.com

If you're itching to travel, but don't yet have a destination in mind, might I make a recommendation? (Of course I might. You know me. I totally WILL.) 

How about taking a literary trip? Go on a pilgrimage: Visit an author's home, a place where So-and-so penned their famous novels.

If you want a bunch of suggestions to get you ridiculously inspired, pick up this book: Novel DestinationsYou'll have a zillion ideas at your fingertips, and you can do a bit of armchair traveling in the meantime.

Going on a literary trip just might change how you think of yourself as a writer.

Really.

How? 

Well, for starters, the things that we celebrate have a way of shaping us.

So, if you're having trouble in your writing, or if you're having a hard time accepting the writing life, it might be really good for you to seek out another writer's haunts.

To celebrate the books they wrote, all the words they put to paper over the years, the gift their work was to so many people.

You know? Whip your book-loving heart into a frenzy. Take a tour of a few writerly sites. 

And celebrate!! Let your word nerd out. 

And as you value all the work that this Famous Author did, let your respect for them nourish your relationship with your own writing. When you're standing there, let it hit you: How hard they worked. How long their haul was. The obstacles they overcame.

Kinda like how hard you are working. How long your haul is. The obstacles that you have overcome; the obstacles that you will overcome. The gift that your words are to others.

Celebrate their words. And as you're doing that, celebrate the writing life in general.

And your writing life especially.

Okay? 

So, go to the places where they wrote. 

That's step one.

Here's step two--and stick with me, because it's a little paradoxical:

Notice how ordinary these sites are.  

Can I say that? 

Obviously there are some exceptions. Sure. But for the most part: we're talking about some pretty normal-looking places. 

Have you ever had this experience:

You're exploring a historical site, or yes, an author's writing place. And you smile around at all the details that your guide is pointing out, or you're dutifully reading brochures and placards. 

And then this voice in you rises up to say, UM, it's just an old house? Or, it's just another room? Or, I've seen plenty of old places by now, is this any different?

You look at the view that inspired so many stories, and you think, Sure, it's nice, but it's just trees and some distant hills...?

And of course, we try to shut that voice up. It sounds ungrateful and rude and unappreciative. Uncultured.

... And I actually can't believe I just blogged about it. I really hope I'm not the only one who reacts this way. Please don't throw things at me.

Because I think that voice has a really good point.

It's easy to start thinking that other writers, famous writers, have stuff that we don't.

We immortalize them in our minds, enshrine them. Maybe without even realizing it. 

So it's easy to start thinking that the place where they wrote will be amazing, in some way. That it will carry some kind of power, some forceful inspiration. We might start thinking, If only I had a place like that--then I could write.

When I was traveling in England, I stood outside the door of one of Jane Austen's residences in Bath. (For some reason, we couldn't go inside--I think it was already closed for the day or something.)

But I stared up at it and thought, Well, it's beautiful and all, but spoiler alert, ALL of Bath is beautiful. At that point in the trip, it looked just like all the other doors. 

Same thing happened when I saw the room where C.S. Lewis worked in Cambridge. It didn't have golden light pouring out of it, no fauns sticking their heads out and waving, no lions roaring. It was another window, like all the rest, looking down at this peaceful little courtyard (which was definitely lacking an eternal winter). Like all the rest.

There's no magic in the places where they lived--however inspiring they may have or have not been. There's no special spark we can soak up.

And that is exactly my point. 

We are the magic! We're the special spark! You, my lionhearted writing friend! You, and your crazy imagination and all the things you care about, all the stuff in you that turns into stories somehow. You're the magic. And so am I.

These places inspired these writers because they were working. Because they kept at it. 

In spite of dreary weather and long struggles and not enough money and lots of interruptions. 

Even if you'd like to argue that these writers had genius: well, genius doesn't write books.

It has to be disciplined, it still has to put in the time, and it has to fight against all those other character flaws that come with genius. 

So let's be done with the kind of thinking that says: they could, but not me.

Let's just LET THAT GO.

Okay? Can we agree to that?

So here's the plan: Go find a famous writer's famous writing site. Go visit.

And when you stand where that Famous Writer stood, go ahead and feel the rush. Connect to your writing life in a good way. Celebrate!

Celebrate the writers that came before you, who inspired you. And celebrate the writer that you already are.

Then let yourself see how ordinary it is. Even if their ordinary is different from your ordinary: notice that it isn't actually magic, however lovely or peaceful or chaotic or colorful or whatever. 

And step three, the kicker:

Find a little bench, a curb, some place to sit. 

And write something. 

It's the perfect culmination of your visit! It celebrates and honors the Famous Writer. It celebrates and honors the Writing You. And at the same time it says, this isn't a shrine. It is a place where writing happened, and where writing will keep on happening.

So write.

It can just be notes of the place where you're sitting. It can be a record of whatever the guide just said. It can be describing how totally inspiring/uninspiring the place itself is. 

Or maybe it will be the start of a new project. An unexpected scrap of poetry that makes your fingers tingle. An essay that captures a little shard of your heart. 

Or hey. I'm a big dreamer: Maybe it's the seed of the novel idea that will, one day, bring hundreds and thousands of people to visit your stomping grounds.

Yes?? 

Yeah. That's what I thought. 

The Mistake We're Making When We Think Our Surroundings Don't Matter

Your writing desk is telling you something about yourself. Is it the message you *want* to be sending? | lucyflint.com

Writing seriously for about ten years now means that I've written in basically every possible situation.

In crappy motel rooms and gorgeous hotel suites and cozy b&bs. Crouching on staircases, or in weird back corners. On trains. In boats, planes, and cars. Sitting on a curb, a park bench, a porch, a rickety lawn chair. In concert halls and airport terminals and dingy hallways. 

Everywhere. 

That's one of those great things about writing, right? Our material is everywhere, inspiration can be any place we choose, and our necessary tools (a pen! a notebook!) are super portable.

We can write in any situation. Any environment.

And while that's super, while that's great, while that's an extremely useful skill to have, I've been making this huge mistake about it.

I figured that: Because I can write in any situation and environment, then my main work environment doesn't really matter.

Meaning: I wasn't putting all that much thought into the way my writing desk/office area looked.

I keep my notes vaguely organized (kinda sorta), and most of my pens and markers make their way into some mugs I have for that purpose--

It isn't an ogre pit, is what I mean. But I also haven't made it a very big priority.

And then I came across the Beautiful Living website by Rebecca McLoughlin. I started devouring her blog posts, especially this great series on spring cleaning and what it means to edit your space. (Not decluttering, but editing. Read about that. It's genius!)

And I had this revelation.

See, she talks a lot about how your space reflects a certain image of yourself and your life back to yourself. 

So you have to look hard at your space and say: do I actually like or agree with this version of myself? Is this the direction I really want to go?

(Think about that a sec. It's a really big deal. All the stuff we have around ourselves: it's all SAYING SOMETHING. Crazy, right? But it totally is!)

I looked around my work area with new eyes after reading her posts. And I asked myself:

Is this the Lucy Flint that I want to keep being? Is my writing space pointing me in the direction I want my writing to go? Is it clean and fresh and inviting? Does it feel both cheerful and yet professional? Does it stimulate my imagination and beckon crazy-amazing stories out of me?

Um, NO. Basically just a lot of no.

It wasn't awful. But it wasn't remarkable.

So this week, I've done a total overhaul of my work area. 

  • I went through my bookcases and found 95 books that I was hanging onto but didn't actually like or want to reread! WHAT?? Ninety-five! That's a freaking lot of books! I pulled them out and now all my favorites (and I still have a lot, so don't worry) have room to breathe.
     
  • I cleared out all my desk drawers and cluttery spaces. I got rid of the dried up pens and crappy pencils and broken supplies. I recycled this huge cascade of papers that no longer mattered. 
     
  • I made a ton of decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. (If I ask myself "Do I need this?" I can always think of five very compelling situations where I'll NEED that thing. And then I don't get rid of it. But when I switch the question and ask: "Can I throw this away?" I tend to think, "Yup, I can definitely live without that!" Isn't that funny? Reframing the question totally changes my response. SO FREEING.)
     
  • And I'm coming up with ways to add more beauty and imagination and quirky creativity to my space. Artwork that inspires stories. Beautifully lettered quotes that get my mind spinning. I've been exploring this awesome catalog of free desktop backgrounds from DesignLoveFest. Totally fun! I'm planning to add some flowers in a great vase. I'm gonna find a gorgeous candle for crying out loud.

I still have more to do before my space is as inviting and stimulating as I'd like it to be. But I'm SO glad I took the time to really look at it and make changes!

I can already feel more mental energy and creativity surging around in my mind. Every time I walk over to my desk, I feel this inner leap of happiness. 

And THAT'S a great way to approach another day of writing!

So what about you? How's your writing area looking?

Can you get rid of anything that's holding you back or reflecting an old version of your writing self? Does anything in your writing space remind you of feeling discouraged or un-confident? Bleh!! Get rid of it!

What would happen if your writing space reflected your most brave, inspired, and delighted writing self back to you? What would that even look like? What kinds of tools would you have? What trinkets and what artwork?

Grab some time today to make a few changes. Kick out the crap. Bring in some beauty. 

The rest of your writing week is already jumping up and down with excitement.


Want a few more ways to shake up your Monday? YEAH, you do. 
Read this post to get inspired to have a little dance party of one.
Tell perfectionism to take a hike.
And use your obscurity to get, you know, super-duper awesome in every way.

It's gonna be a great week, lionhearts.

The seclusion illusion.

The seclusion illusion.

My life is full of so many lovely people, so many good relationships. And I couldn't survive without them. But sometimes... 

Sometimes there are so many voices, so many conversations, and so much activity that my solitude-craving inner introvert just flips out a little. And I start to crave a getaway.

Right now, I deeply desire a bit of isolation.

Now honestly, this doesn't work so well in practice. I spent most of two weeks on my own once, and ended up crying into the carpet. I need people. 

So I cultivate the idea of isolation instead. I snoop through photos that conjure up a mood of loneliness, that feeling of a big fat moat between me and the noisy world. And if I borrow enough austerity, maybe it will bring my mind back to a clear, calm, focused place.

I did some online exploring and rounded up seven places where I can imagine myself into a solitary writing getaway... Which one tempts you the most?

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