The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past. —Marie Kondo

Tidying Up

Last weekend, I gave a presentation on how to use Marie Kondo’s organizing method (based on her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) to approach the creative process. The KonMari method is based on the idea of mindfulness and paying careful attention to the things we choose to fill our space. We don’t want a space filled with junk or items we don’t care about because it’s distracting and overwhelming. We want intentional possessions—as Marie Kondo says, “things that spark joy”.


Creating anything tends to get messy, and this can lead to frustration. We’ve been told to write “shitty first drafts”...but then we are faced with a mess. Merely thinking about this kind of creative chaos can send us into a spiral of feeling overwhelmed and unhappy.


If you’ve ever watched her show, you’ve seen Marie step into a messy, disorganized home, and get on her knees. Smiling serenely, she closes her eyes, and bows deeply, pressing her forehead against the floor. Sometimes, the family will watch or join her in thanking the home for the joyful memories it has given them, for protecting them and holding them.

The Manuscript Wants To Be Beautiful

Like those homes, our manuscripts can feel disappointing, embarrassing, frustrating, overwhelming. But we made them in a spirit of hope, and connection to our fellow human beings. We made them in a spirit of love of storytelling. The manuscript wants to bloom, and we are trimming it to help it become all it can be. It’s our ally in this work. The mess is temporary.

Keep What Works

The next time you feel frustrated or stalled by your artistic mess, try to remember everything that the mess has given you. Evaluate the thoughts, the descriptions, the characters, and the moments that spark joy, and then feel free to discard the rest with gratitude.