Marie Kondo and Writing

I have begun my ruthless war on the stuff and clutter in both my tiny studio flat and my writing life.I am hoping that with a decluttered living space and a decluttered mind I will regain the joy of writing.

The theory behind the extreme decluttering is that you should only keep things you actually use and things which bring you joy. When I do handwriting these days I tend to use fountain pens and have five of them each with a different colour ink cartridge. I have a small collection of biros which fit nicely in my hand and with which I can write neatly. These I have kept. All the biros which have sneaked in from work are being returned there. I do not use them and they cluttered up my repurposed enamel teapot. Likewise all the small pairs of scissors which somehow got back here and ended up in my dry goods measuring cup. They are being returned to work too.

I have put all the ink cartridges in a small glass pot where they are tidy, secure and make a nice decoration on the corner of the desk.

All the rest of the tut which found its way onto my desk during the month has either been put in it’s proper place or binned. The result is a nice clear and clutter free desk where I am surrounded only by the items I need to write. Already I am feeling good here and inspired to write.


When was the last time you did something for the first time?


Border crossing

The headline is a quote from leadership and  inspiration guru John C. Maxwell.

Here’s some more inspiration:

“Seven Steps to Success
1) Make a commitment to grow daily.
2) Value the process more than events.
3) Don’t wait for inspiration.
4) Be willing to sacrifice pleasure for opportunity.
5) Dream big.
6) Plan your priorities.
7) Give up to go up.”
John C. Maxwell

I guess I am following some of those steps right now. How?

  1. Interacting more with social media and using my Instagram and Tumblr accounts to promote my work and ideas.
  2. Checking social media more to see what other people are doing and to get inspiration.
  3. Updating my website with background images and text which really reflect my writing and photography. It is all about focus.
  4. I am dreaming big – I am going to format and publish my Riga novel and then approach some independent bookshops to see if they are will to stock a copy or two.
  5. Living in a changing world as we do, it is no longer enough to keep going with the flow and letting life wash over. It is time to be pro-active. I am going to start running my own writing workshops NOW!
  6. I am accepting that in order to move forward I have to give up on projects which are not working. So I am shelving that Estonian crime novel I keep coming back to until I have a really good idea.
  7. My upcoming trip to Belarus must lead to something not just a big adventure. Photobook? Guidebook? Travel video? Novel? Journal? Who knows?
  8. Decluttering. Without clutter I am free to think and dream and produce.
  9. Getting up and going first thing in the morning to take advantage of the peace and quiet in the house.


Image source:

Deep Writing


Prepared text for a modern printing press

I recently read an article on the topic of “Deep Writing,” in which the author advises that writers need to park their worries and concerns before they start writing. I think that is an excellent point – it is difficult to write when stressed or worried. It is only natural that these stresses get in the way of the though process.

The writer recommends several techniques to create that special kind of “writing world” that “real” writers seem to inhabit. These involve setting timers, parking worries in a box outside the door, not checking emails or websites until the day’s writing is done, writing a set amount each day and so on.

I am NOT one of those writers who can write everyday. In fact, I sometimes don’t write for a whole week. I might think about writing but I don’t do it. As a writer of historical fiction, I spend a lot of time fact-checking and in the process get carried away looking at interesting things which are not necessarily relevant. I think I am a more rounded person because I learn all kinds of random things from the internet. I am not sure I am going to find much use for today’s nugget that the Duchess of Wessex has a computer database of all her clothes, but you never know.

However, I can enter a kind of writing zone when I want to. The whole of this week I have been doing my research with the backdrop of builders working overhead. I got a surprising amount done, considering the noise they made, and happily immersed myself in Wikipedia and various YouTube films. When they disappeared on Thursday evening, I was wound up enough to sit at my laptop and make major revisions to chapter one. Then, I went back to doing other things. I plan to work on chapter two tomorrow but there’s no hurry. The story will come when it is ready.

I sometimes wonder if I would write more if I didn’t have to go out and earn a living. I don’t think I would. I do “deep writing” when my brain tells me it is ready to write. When my brain is distracted then I do other things. Somehow or other, I seem to get to the end of the novels and produce, I think, something worth reading. That, I think, is the aim.

BTW the writer of the original article has had hundreds of articles etc published. That is impressive.

I include the original article for your perusal:




Commiting to the process

I have decided to title this submission “commiting to the process” because that is what I am doing right now. I am commiting myself to the process of editing the second part of my novel based on the KGB Headquarters in Riga and also to the process of preparing the book for publication. In the way that I work, the writing and the preparation for publication happen at pretty much the same time. While I write I think about the blog, the website and the Facebook page. I also think about future readers.

I published the first part of the novel as a stand alone book called Living with the Enemy. At 90 printed pages it was a novella more than a book. I formatted the book, set it up in CreateSpace, Photoshopped a cover and then uploaded the whole thing. After a few weeks, I decided that while I like the title Stura maja for both parts, I do not really like for the first part only. So, I created a new cover with a modified title and uploaded it.

The problem was that there was no title on the spine and no blurb at the back. So, I went back to the drawing board and downloaded the file from CreateSpace to create an integrated cover. Now it looks more like a professional book.

I also went through my epub version on the book and found some typos. I corrected them in the manuscript. This allowed me to reconnect with the book properly for the first time in two months. Now, I am ready to edit the second half of the story and am commited to the process of producing the best book I can with the writing tools (myself and my knowledge) I have at my disposal right now. It may not be the best book I write but it will have been written with due dilligence.

Now that summer is here and my winter job over, I can commit myself once again to the process of being a writer. I can permit myself to take time away from earning a living to writing and completing at least one writing project. I feel, already, as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and my fingers can fly over the keyboard once again.


Finding a writing space

The last few weeks have been very hectic with travelling, moving, the British General Election and work. Somehow, I managed to get my book “Stura maja: Living with the Enemy” formatted and up for sale on Amazon in the midst of the chaos. The book, I am pleased to say, is doing quite well.

Find a writing space both physically and in my head has been rather difficult. At first, there was the euphoria of completing the first of the Stura Maja books. Then, came the distribution and promotion of the book. This has been quite time consuming and rather draining. I have had to think “book” while around me colleagues have been facing redundancy and a restructuring of further education in England.

I am pleased that I now have a new physical writing space:

New Writing Space

New Writing Space

It is in fact, the same old desk but it is now situated in other part of North West London.

Getting the correct position for the writing desk has been very important. I need to have a clear space where there are only the things around which need to be around. At the moment, the table top is littered external drives as I am finding and uploading photographs for my website. The Recipe tin is the hold all for all the wires which plug into my laptop or charge up my iPad. The mug came from the Stura Maja exhibition in Riga last year and is a reminder of my novels.

I have a connection to my love of baking in the form of a cook’s measuring jug which I use to keep all my rulers and scissors organised; I have an old enamel teapot as a pen store. I find that having practical and comforting objects on the desk helps to create a sense of balance from the clinical aspect of working on a laptop. I would love to have a totally clear desk but that, I am sure, is never going to happen.

So far, the new working space is working out well. I have a good view of the rest of the room and the street outside which helps give my eyes a break. I have managed this morning to completely update my website and my facebook page. I look forward now to working on the next part of Stura maja.