People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter. It’s being able to let in call letters from the poetry universe. —Juan Felipe Herrera


Many of the artists I know are messy. As a group, we tend to be magpies, picking up stories, memories, moments, and notable observations of all kinds and storing them away like shiny objects. We have a million ideas, and—often—we want to cram them all into the very story we are writing at this moment.

Stuff and Nonsense

The trouble with having a lot of clutter is that it can be difficult to discern what is really valuable, what is really worth keeping amid our treasure hoard. But storytelling is the essence of clutter removal. Every time we tell a story, we choose from our vast collection of ideas and observations to capture the essence of that perfect moment that will not only tell what happened but will also imply why. The story of Macbeth is not only the story of the rise and fall of a king, but of the moments that led, one by one, to the outcome. The whole point of a story is to connect cause and effect so that our human minds understand why events occurred the way they did.

A Simple Process

A lack of clutter is not simplicity; simplicity is what leads to a lack of clutter.

A lack of clutter is not simplicity; simplicity is what leads to a lack of clutter. Of course, artists must keep collecting and creating wonderful new thoughts and ideas; there’s no changing that. But when you write—or do anything, really—it’s important to have a simple process that helps you determine the value of the choices you’re making. I created Bookflow to help my wonderful magic magpie artist friends do two things: 1. store and grow their treasure trove of ideas, and 2. assess those treasures, streamline them, and place them in the best possible order. 

Declutter your writing mind

Early January is often a time when people decide that it’s time to declutter. Don’t forget to declutter your mind—to let words and images in—and your stories—to let the meaning out.