Declutter your writing – advice from a hoarder

Jessica Norrie with some excellent strategies for decluttering your writing….

Declutter your writing – advice from a hoarder

Are you one of the many people who’ve profited from lockdown to write? Have you written so many words you’ve reached “The End”? Congratulations! Now there’s another task. Words are like belongings. One minute you’re setting up home with only a mattress on the floor; the next, it’s time for a clear-out!

This article from Writers & Artists gives a rough idea of word counts for publishable fiction in most genres. A rule of thumb is not to exceed 100,000 words (fantasy can go longer). One fellow student on a creative writing course told me his 250,000 word novel offered better value for money. But value lies in entertainment, moving and absorbing the reader, not in padding and clutter. Authors design with words: their product must be fit for purpose, attractive and practical. William Morris said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” and 120 years later Marie Kondo agrees. Achieving the right 100,000 (or fewer) words is an opportunity for quality control.

We’ve all gazed at a cluttered room in despair, wishing for an elegant purposeful space where people linger. An overwritten book isn’t so different. But where do we begin, and can we make the task enjoyable?

You’d assess your furniture before a house move. It’s a good time to offload those uncomfortable armchairs, the toppling standard lamps and occasional tables everyone bumps into? You can take a similar overview of your plot. The minor characters and incidents you wrote way back, the time they break the hoover or have tea with his second cousin…is that still interesting or relevant? Envisage emptying a boot load of junk at the tip. My student friend’s story perked up no end when he threw 150,000 words in the skip.

(Some writers keep a folder for discarded episodes, on the grounds you never know when they might come in useful. Morris would allow this as he approved of re-purposing, but don’t tell Kondo.)


Head over to read the rest of the post and I am sure you will find as interesting and motivating as I did.. off to declutter..

via Declutter your writing – advice from a hoarder

21 thoughts on “Declutter your writing – advice from a hoarder

  1. Pingback: Declutter your writing – advice from a hoarder — Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris

  2. Thanks,Sally. I’m a terrible ‘word-hoarder.’ Bits of paper, and so many notebooks…Where did they all come from?. Quotations, odd facts, ‘must-have’ book titles, etc , etc.,Not being technical, I’m a hopeless case. But it’s still fun, isn’t it?! (In my actual stories, I do try and ration now and then..Less is often more!) Hugs xx

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thank you so much for the pingback Sally. I’m trying to declutter my Sundays so I didn’t check my emails and see you’d done it before! But had some good feedback on this one and v proud to have like from the Story Reading Ape. Now all I have to do is follow my own advice! Have a lovely what’s-left-of-the-weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.